HKG/ Legacy of Plague I: Blake Garden

Tai Ping Shan originally was a very densely populated area with deplorable sanitary conditions. The only possible public open space is the street since there were no planning of open space or green space for recreational purpose.

In the year of 1894, the out plague broke out in Hong Kong, centred on Tai Ping Shan Street, the heart of Tai Ping Shan district. The Sanitary Board of the British force then cordoned off the area and evacuated all the inhabitants. Legislation was passed in September 1894, to resume the properties in the Tai Ping Shan area. The Government bought back the buildings and demolished all of them. After it is being razed to the ground, ew roads were laid out with new houses built. In order to reduce the overcrowding population, an open space was reserved for the first public garden for Chinese in Hong Kong: Blake Garden.

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It marks as an evidence of Plage, “one of the most disastrous calamities that affected Hong Kong” that “first broke out in the Tai Ping Shan District in 1894” (Photograph of the entrance of Blake Garden in Kui In Fong, 2015, Judy Chu.)

  

Blake Garden was opened in 1905, it is being named after Henry Blake who pushed the idea of reserving space for a garden in such residential community. It is believed that Blake Garden was significant not only because it was the first planned garden, but also a turning point in colonized history as the British government start to aware the living condition and living quality of colonial resident.

Although SCMP Journalist, Christopher Dewolf described “The legacy of the plague, along with the presence of coffin makers and a temple that serves as a shrine to the dead, left the neighbourhood with an inauspicious reputation that kept people away. So did a lack of access: most of the neighbourhood is made up of dead-end streets, pedestrian-only terraces and steep staircases, which has prevented the kind of redevelopment seen to the west in Sai Ying Pun and to the east in Central.” Ken, a blogger on ilovehongkong.org described Blake Garden as a secret garden which “anchors a quiet neighborhood featuring laneways, staircase streets and pedestrian-only terraces lined by low-rise buildings. The relaxed atmosphere in the area has attracted design studios, art galleries and cafés.”

 

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(Photograph of landscape inside Blake Garden, 2015, Judy Chu.)
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There are few levels of floor different in the Blake Garden. It is basically in a slope condition in both axis. Along the Po Hing Fong, it has three basketball court and a volleyball court, and they each have 2-3 steps (0.5-1 meter) height difference. The next “layer” of it, is the football ground that is around one floor level different compared to the above four courts. It is very smart that the level difference is used as an audience stadium which also have a unique sea view (since it is extremely sloppy and the neighborhood is mostly low-rise residential housing). The last part of Blake Garden are the children’s playground where there are slides and monkey bars. It is another 2-3 meter below the football ground. (Photograph of Blake Garden’s entrance on Po Hing Fong , 2015, Judy Chu.)

  

 

Ken’s Blog about Blake Garden –

http://ilovehongkong.org/blake-garden-hong-kong/
Christopher Dewolf’s report about Blake Garden – 

http://www.scmp.com/article/742225/breathing-new-life-blake-garden

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