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Glimpses of Hong Kong’s past could shape its future

A photo compilation that compares present-day Hong Kong with its past underscores the city’s rapid evolution. (

Visitors to Hong Kong are often struck by how modern, sleek and vertical it is. In fact, few hints remain of the city’s storied past as a fishing outpost where some residents lived on houseboats.

A new online photo project dubbed “Historic Hong Kong” offers a glimpse into the city’s bustling past a century ago. Historic photos of streetscapes are lined up against current ones available from Google to explore how the city has changed over the years. (The “slider” tool works best when viewed on a mobile device; for best viewing on a desktop, shrink your browser window to the size of a phone or tablet.)

These photos show that streets now lined with high-end shops and plied by double-decker buses were once brimming with rickshaws rolling past ornate colonial-era buildings. The digital visual history, created with guidance from a historian, may be expanded to other parts of the city.

The project, sponsored by the travel site, is partly intended as a resource for future development decisions. “Historic Hong Kong was mainly conceived for historical purposes,” Yolanda del Peso, a publicist for the project, told Citiscope via email. “But we’re aware that projects like this can influence city planning and public perception in a positive way,” she says.


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