Tong Lau / 唐樓, the Hong Kong shophouse

Hong Kong's streets used to be lined with shophouses, but few remain today. In this guest post, Dr. Lee Ho Yin and Prof. Lynne DiStefano from Hong Kong University walk us through the history of the Hong Kong shophouse, then show us how to identify the different generations.

Tong Lau: A Hong Kong Shophouse Typology


Prince Edward Road West
(Image source: Urban Renewal Authority)

1890s View along the Praya

1890s View along the Praya

When: This photo is taken from a stereoview card, dated 1896:

1896 Stereoview: "Chinese Coolies, Hong Kong, China"


Where: The line of masts along the right of the photo shows we're on the seafront, or Praya.


We know the 1896 seafront ran along Des Voeux Road, but which section are we looking at?

There's a clue in the

1960s Hong Kong

Different views of Hong Kong in the 1960s, starting with:

1960s Hong Kong in words

Andrew Craig-Bennett's excellent series about Hong Kong's history includes:

  • Hong Kong in the late Fifties and early Sixties
    The 1960s were probably the defining decade in the formation of the Hong Kong identity as it is today. Read more...
  • A note on "Fragrant grease"
    Hong Kong in the Fifties and Sixties, especially the Sixties, was a nest of corruption, springing from the population explosion. There was unmet demand for just about everything, and allocation of resources was an obvious field for corruption. Low Government salaries certainly contributed so far as local officials were concerned, but the Englishmen in the Government service had no such excuse. In fairness to them, though, they were often very fine people in other respects - senior and junior policemen and firemen were often brave, efficient and corrupt at the same time. Read more ...
  • More Sixties Stuff
    Expanding public education, riots, "R&R", the Confrontation Tie, and Mainland China's views of British Hong Kong during this time. Read more ...


1960s Hong Kong in photos

I've chosen a few favourites to begin with (you can click on any photo to see a larger copy):


BOAC Hong Kong poster
Arrive by air


1960s Kai Tak Observation Deck
Kai Tak Observation Deck


P&O SS Chusan
Or arrive by sea: P&O's SS Chusan, shown berthed at Kowloon Wharf


1960s TST Clock Tower
View over the Railway Terminus & Clock Tower towards Central


1961 Central banks decorated for Princess Alexandra's visit
Central banks decorated for Princess Alexandra's visit in 1961


1960s HSBC
Inside HSBC


1960s Traffic Pagoda
Traffic Police Pagoda


1960s Hong Kong
Queueing for water


196x pic taken at victoria park
Victoria Park playground


Repulse Bay Beach-1969
Repulse Bay Beach


Fisher-folk Children Sha Tau Kok -1960's
Fisher-folk children at Sha Tau Kok


1967 Staunton's Creek
Jam-packed Staunton's Creek, Aberdeen


1960s Hong Kong
Bus on Lantau


1960s #72 Des Voeux Road Central, Tak Wing Pawn Shop
Taxi & bus on Des Voeux Road Central


1960 Gingles Restaurant
Nathan Road, showing Gingles Restaurant


1965 Chantecler ad
"Specialising in European and Russian food"


Shirley Bassey at City Hall


1960s Sun Ya Hotel, Nathan Road, Mong Kok
Mong Kok at night


For more photos from the 1960s, see

71 years ago: August 1945 and the end is in sight

Seventy-one years ago, our wartime diarists knew the end of the war was in sight. Would they live to see it?

The good news

They had two good reasons to believe the end of the war was coming. First there was

1950: Military sites around Hong Kong

Several of Gwulo's readers first visited Hong Kong on military service, and will remember the sites listed below.

If you can add any photos or memories, they'll be gratefully received.

Regards, David




(1) Stanley Fort - Map & Notes, Photos

1997 St. Barbara - Garrison Church of Stanley Fort
1997 St. Barbara - Garrison Church of Stanley Fort, by Moddsey

(2) Cape Collinson Camp - Map & Notes, Photos


(3) The War Memorial Hospital - Map & Notes, Photos

1930s War Memorial Hospital
1930s War Memorial Hospital, by Admin


(4) The Bowen Road Hospital


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