Located in SoHo, this pedestrian path was originally named ‘Alexander Terrace’ after the owner of the property that the road belonged to. However, a clerical error resulted in the name being written backwards – hence, ‘Rednaxela Terrace.’
Stone Nullah Lane
Passersby in Wan Chai unfamiliar with this Anglo-Indian word might wonder: ‘What’s a nullah?’ It turns out, that the word nullah is of Hindi origin and refers to a ravine or narrow valley through which a stream of water flows. This street refers to a stream that used to come down from the hill where Ruttonjee Hospital sits.
Beacon Hill Road
In the 17th century, the Qing Emperor Kangxi ordered that all villages down the South China coast be evacuated and burned in order to fight the anti-Qing rebellion under the leadership of the pirate Koxinga. The modern residential area of Beacon Hill in Kowloon Tong was so named because a garrison, called a beacon, was established to enforce this decree.
Tai Koo Shing Road
Tai koo (太古), literally meaning ‘too ancient,’ is the Chinese name for the Swire Group, a British conglomerate that owns large swaths of property in Asia. Legend has it that John Samuel Swire, the founder of the company, visited China in around 1870 and noticed a Lunar New Year poster bearing the phrase dai gat dai lei (大吉大利), meaning ‘great luck and great profit.’ Swire took a liking to the phrase, but when he returned to his office to write down his company’s new Chinese name, he wrote the characters dai gat (大吉) incorrectly, and ended up with tai koo (太古) instead.
The oldest road in Kowloon and one of Hong Kong’s major thoroughfares, Nathan Road was built in the 1860s and was originally named Robinson Road, after Hercules Robinson, the fifth governor of Hong Kong. In 1909, its name was changed to Nathan Road, after Sir Matthew Nathan, the 13th governor. During his tenure as governor, Nathan made major steps to establish Hong Kong’s central urban planning and reconstruction policies.
New Praya Kennedy Town
This street on the Kennedy Town waterfront has the interesting quirk of containing the word praya, a Portuguese term which was imported into Hong Kong from Macau, and which means ‘a road built next to a seawall.’
Running between Des Voeux Road and Queen’s Road Central, this street was named in 1887 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign, also known as her Golden Jubilee.
Electric Street and Electric Road
Electric Street in Wan Chai and Electric Road in North Point are both named after power plants built by Hongkong Electric. In 1913, the North Point power plant was built to replace the one in Wan Chai, although it didn’t begin operation until 1919 due to World War I.
Lan Kwai Fong
Filled with clubs, bars and restaurants, Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife district. There are a few competing stories as to how Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊) got its name. It literally means ‘orchid cinnamon square’ but loosely translates to ‘street filled with orchids and fragrances.’ One story has it that the area was named after the street hawkers and flower shops that dominated the area prior to World War II. However, another story says that it was named for being a red-light district for British soldiers in the colony’s early days. Locals dubbed the area Lan Gwei Fong (爛鬼坊), or ‘rotten ghost place.’ In this context, gwei, meaning ‘ghost,’ is short for gweilo, a derogatory term for Caucasians.