Where: A couple of buildings on either side of the photo pin down where it was taken. First look down in the bottom right corner, where you'll see these buildings:
The long building across the middle is clearer to see in this photo (it's below the 'c' of the watermark - you can click it to get a zoomable copy):
It's the old hospital quarters building, on the corner of High Street and Eastern Street.
Next look across to the left side of the photo, where there's this light-coloured oval:
It's the roof of the gas holder that stood in Shek Tong Tsui, near where the market is today.
We're looking north over Sai Ying Pun and Shek Tong Tsui. There are also buildings from mid-levels in the foreground, and Stonecutters Island is away in the distance on the right.
Who: I wonder who'd have bought this view? It wasn't a popular subject for tourist postcards, so maybe it was someone who lived in this area.
When: This was a real photo sold as a postcard. Here's the back:
The back of this photo:
The back of this photo:
We've seen this stamp box design before. This type of paper was sold between 1910-1930 , giving a rough idea of the photo's age. Let's see if we can narrow it down further.
Take a look at the gas holder again:
Can you see a tower in front of the gas holder, attached to a large building? That's the Main Building at Hong Kong University, which was completed in 1912. Just above the right corner of the Main Building there's a small dome. That was opened in 1919, to hold the University Union. It's still standing today, now named the Hung Hing Ying Building.
Over on the right, at the bottom of the photo is another education building:
It's the main building of St Stephen's Girls' College, which opened in 1924.
Back in the centre, and again along the bottom edge, we've got these buildings:
Does anyone recognise them? They look newly built, so if they were finished after 1924 they'll narrow down the date even more. For now I'll guess the photo was taken in the mid- to late-1920s.
What: The view isn't as sharp as I'd like, partly due to the photo, and partly due to when it was taken.
The photo itself is over ninety years old, and showing its age. But even when it was new it wasn't as sharp as the other, older photo of this district shown above. Look at the shadows of the chimneys and you'll see it's late afternoon:
That makes for a darker photo, with more shadow. And since cooking was often done over firewood, there would be smoke in the air as families got dinner ready.
I've lived in and around Kennedy Town for over twenty years, so I'm always interested to see old photos of this side of Hong Kong. It wasn't a popular destination for tourists, which means there aren't many photos. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments below.
Trivia: Even though most of the buildings in these old photo are long gone, I like looking for signs of where they were. One example in this photo is an unusally shaped plot of land, that has been carried on into the present-day buildings.
Here are the buildings today, seen from street-level:
And from above:
Can you spot that same curved shape in the old photo?
- "Azo" stamp box, with two triangles pointing up, and two pointing down: http://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php