Nostalgic Images of Hong Kong

Hong Kong blogger “Batgung” has put together a great collection of photos of Hong Kong’s streetscape along the tram route in the 1950s, stretching from Sheung Wan all the way to Causeway Bay:-

The photos that resonate most with me are the last four, as I used to live and go to school in that area in the 50s and 60s: the old New York Theater site (at the junction of Percival Street and Hennessy Road); the old Capitol Theater site (at the junction of Yee Wo Street, Kai Chiu Road and Jardine’s Bazaar); the old Roxy Theater site (on Causeway Road); and the old Hoover Theater site (near the old tram roundabout at the junction of Leighton Road, Yee Woo Street and Causeway Road). Of these, Capitol Theater was the only cinema that used to show sensational Mandarin films produced by Shaw Brothers, with goddess-like actresses like Lin Dai, Li Lihua, Ivy Ling Bo, Jeanette Lin Tsui, Li Ching etc. playing leading ladies; the other three cinemas used to show classic and trendy Western movies.

In the last photo, there is shown a snack store with “Vitasoy” advertising banners draped over it. The store used to sell mouth-watering jello desserts, soft drinks, popsicles and sweet bean curd. What made the jello dessert so enticing were the chunks of fresh pineapples in it and the generous splash of “Three Carnation” evaporated milk on top. But most of the time my pocket money was not enough for me to be able to afford such a luxury treat, which, for many of my high school schoolmates, were a daily after-school ritual. I usually took another route home just to avoid passing by that store.

The following is a video link that shows a Dutchman named Michael Rogge, who used to live and work in Hong Kong from 1949 to 1955, walking down to Central from his MacDonnell Road apartment in the mid-levels in the year 1949:-

Wow, what a vast span of water in the harbor then (compared to now)! But I wasn’t even born yet that year. I just love those rickshaws parked so neatly along Ice House Street. I actually took a ride on one of those to school for several days when I was in Primary 3 or 4, as I was suffering from a foot skin disease that made walking impossible. When it rained, the rickshaw man would pull up the hood and let down the green plastic sheet in front of the seat to shield the passenger from the rain. I felt bad about being on a rickshaw, though, as I reckoned (and still do) no human being should ever be reduced to being used like a cow just for the comfort and convenience of another human being.