City scenes | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

City scenes

For the third batch, we'll look at views of the city from various angles.

1. Almost a panorama: Hong Kong from the harbour

The first postcard has an arrow showing the owner's house - but unfortunately it must have been sent with a long-lost letter, as there isn't any more information about the owner on the back of the card.

View from harbour #1


In any case I was more interested in the three little arrows, as the next card I looked at has them too.

View from harbour #2


Sure enough the arrows line up, so I bought the pair imagining I'd be able to merge them in to a single, detailed panorama. But ...

When I looked at them more carefully later, I realised the two photos were taken from two different locations so they probably won't match up correctly. (Look at the second photo and find the P&O building, the tall building on the seafront next to the old GPO. Look up from the P&O building and directly above it you'll see the bell tower of the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Now find the P&O building at the right edge of the first photo. See how this photo shows the bell tower moved to the left, above the GPO building? That means the camera moved location between the photos, dashing my panoramic plans. Hey ho.)


2. 1950s View from the harbour

This is a classic view of Central from the harbour, bought with the simple idea that people might like to buy an enlargement as a framed print.

1950s View of Central


3. Queen's Road Central near Central Market

This was a popular spot to take commercial photographs and postcards. The fact that Queen's Road road bends to the left, and that Central Market (just visible at far right) is set back from the road to the right, means the photographer has a clear view along the road. The busy market also guarantees it's a lively scene.

This view is a postcard published by W. Brewer & Co., and mailed by 'Cousin Nellie' in 1905.

1900s QRC near Central Market


4. 1920s View over Sheung Wan

This is a small photo but a sharp one, so I'm hoping it will enlarge well when it is scanned in.

Views from the Peak are common enough, but tend to show the view over Central, so I'm happy when I can find a photo taken further to the west.

I can see a mass of scaffolding on the shoreline at 1 o'clock. That is the Central Fire Station under construction, dating the photo to the early 1920s.

1920s View over Sheung Wan


5. Unknown house

This was printed on thin paper, for insertion into a photo album. It curls badly when taken out of the plastic sleeve...

House #1


... so back it went. Not so clear, but nice and flat.

House #2


There aren't any clues on the back, but the shape of the buildings look familiar, and might have been some that were not too far from San Po Kong where I live. I'll take a closer look when I'm back home, but if you can identify it please let us know in the comments.


6. 1946 Unknown street

The seller has written '1946' on the back, so it was probably extracted from an album of photos taken around that date. There aren't any other notes on the back, and I don't see any writing on the buildings, but there is a good clue facing us from the end of the street.

1946 Street with air raid shelter


It is the entrance to one of the tunnels excavated as air raid shelters just before WW2. When I come back to scan and take a closer look at this, that should help work out the location. But again, if you can beat me to it, please let me know!