City Hall, Central, Hong Kong. (late 1890s / early 1900s)

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 01:40

Image flipped horizontally, color fault slightly removed.

After some discussion about the date for this image it was estimated to end 1890's to early 1900s.

Source: This image came from Flickr, but it has been removed there. Re-uploaded from (old) Gwulo.

Date picture taken


I can't get my bearings with this photo. Can anyone help explain which direction we're looking in, and identify the single-storey building on the left of the photo?

Regards, David

Thanks, that makes it much clearer!

So along the left of Des Voeux Road we've got City Hall, then the 2nd-generation HSBC, then two similar buildings up to Ice House Street, then two more after we turn the bend. Here's a good view of the same buildings from the harbour:

Praya Buildings - help identify ?

Does anyone know the names of the other four buildings? I think their addresses were 4, 6, 8 & 10 Des Voeux Road.

The other mystery in the first photo is that single-storey building on the right of the photo. It looks as though it was roughly where Prince's Building will be built later. I guess it was some sort of office connected with the reclamation project, but it's surprising how ornate it was for a temporary building. Any other information about it gratefully received.

Regards, David

Could it be the entrance to a ferry pier? The beginnings of the roof on the far right of the original photo remind me a bit of one. No idea if it's in the right spot though.

Here in an image from 1910 with a similar view:

1910s De Voeux Rd Central
1910s De Voeux Rd Central, by Admin

David, you're right that Price's Building was built at the site of the unknown building.

If you magnify the building from 1890, it seems as if it was under construction at that time, note the surrounding fences.


The fences are possibly surrounding the plot of land next to the single storey building, not the building itself. Admittedly it's hard to tell. However, looking at the roof, chimney and side walls of the building, and the slight cracks/discolouration in some parts, the building does not seem to be brand new to me.

Below is a higher resolution photo of the original one above from the HKPL collection. The building we are trying to identify is flying a flag but I cant tell what type of flag

VIC Des Voeux Road looking West c1895 HKPL.jpg
VIC Des Voeux Road looking West c1895 HKPL.jpg, by HKPL

The building likely only existed a couple of years. The reclamation in this part was not completed until 1894/95 and the Prince's building on this corner was constructed  1902ish. At the time of reclamation the land lease gave 36 months for a construction of a substantial stone building on the plot or it would revert to the government. As there was a property slump in the late 1890 I think the pictured building was built to satisfy the land lease while the owners (Mody & Chater) waited for better conditions to construct a proper structure.