1930s Panorama from Central to Causeway Bay

1930s Panorama from Central to Causeway Bay

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Where: Our first photo in the Year of the Snake is a panoramic view from the Peak. At the left edge of the photo we can just see the Central Fire Station (today's Hang Seng Bank HQ buiding), then we pan right across Central, Admiralty, and the newly-reclaimed land at Wanchai, ending up at Causeway Bay.

((Gwulo meetup in London: I'm meeting up with several Gwulo readers in London next Thursday 14th, for lunch and a chat. If you'd like to join us you're very welcome. Please contact me by email for the details.))

What: The Wanchai reclamation was shown in another photo I posted recently [1]. In that photo, taken around 1924, the reclamation had just started:

East Point

But by the time this photo was taken the reclamation was complete, and the new land extended right out to Gloucester Road:

c.1930 Wanchai reclamation

All that earth and rock had to come from somewhere - Morrison Hill. If you compare the two photos you'll see how most of the hill was dug away to provide the material for the reclamation.

When: The reclamation was finished, but building has hardly started, suggesting a date in the early 1930s.

Let's take a closer look at the buildings in Central to see if we can get any clues there. Here's City Hall, with Dent's fountain in front of it:

c.1930 City Hall

Moddsey recently noted that the west wing of City Hall was demolished in 1933, and that Dent's fountain probably went around the same time. Here they're both still standing, so the date can't be later than 1933.

A bit further to the left is this building wrapped in scaffolding, and missing its roof:

c.1930 Royal Building

You might guess it's a new building under construction, but you'd be wrong. It was originally the King Edward Hotel, on the corner of Des Voeux Road and Ice House Street. The building was gutted by fire in March 1929, but rather than demolishing it they kept the shell and built a new (fireproof!) interior.

We know the renovation work had finished by April 1931, as the newspapers reported the Nederlansch Indische Handelsbank moved in on the ground floor.

So I'll guess this photo was taken around the middle of this period, ie 1930.

Who: Thanks to the photographer, whoever they were. For some reason they decided to take two photos, giving us this wide-angle view.

There is lots of detail in this photo, so let me know if you'd like me to blow up any part of it. And as always, comments, corrections and questions are very welcome, just leave a message in the comments below.

Regards, David

Trivia: I saw these two photographic postcards for sale on eBay a couple of years go, and bought them in the hope that I could join them together and make a single panorama. I've tried a couple of times in the past without success, but this time managed to join them up. You can still find the join if you know it's there, but it's good enough.

I guess that the reason it worked this time is because the software I use, a free package called 'Hugin', has been upgraded and is better able to deal with poor matches like this. If you ever need to join photos together, whether for panoramas, or to reassemble large documents you've photographed in sections, I recommend you give Hugin a try. Their website is at: http://hugin.sourceforge.net/


  1. Photo: c.1924 Looking east from the Peak

Reference: A135

Date picture taken (to nearest decade for older photos): 
Wednesday, January 1, 1930


David - any chance the aerial ropeway over Queensway could be seen in the photo?

Good question. I took another look but it's too far away to be 100% sure. Here's that section of the photo:

c.1930 area around Ropeway's path

On the left of this section of the photo we can see the camber. Between it and the newly reclaimed land there is a structure on the shorline that looks like the gantry that was at the end of the ropeway. So though I can't see the ropeway clearly, there is a chance it is there.

Regards, David