HKG/ Tai Ping Shan as a community

Tai Ping Shan as a community in 1840s
Hong Kong Island is well-known with its hilly topography — Tai Ping Shan especially, as it is located in the Mid-levels.

Tai Ping Shan is first settled in the 1840s. “Shan” in Cantonese, has a meaning of “mountain”. The name “Tai Ping Shan” is actually an alternative name to “Victoria Peak” and it literally means “Peace Hill”. After the cession of Hong Kong Island from China to the British Government in the 1840s, the British forces made garrison here and later the government relocated all Chinese residents to this area. This become the one and only spot which Chinese residents live.

However the plague in the 1890s has changed the district a lot. After the out-break of such serious disease, there were relocation of residents. The problem of highly-densed population on sloppy hill was being reviewed. Therefore, new housing policies were made, some area within the district were burnt-down and rebuilt. In addition, there were public washroom and showering facilities, as well as public garden being introduced to the Chinese community.

 

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Tai Ping Shan Street is the heart of Tai Ping Shan. It is parallel to Blake garden. It was once full of happenings as it is a very important road in Tai Ping Shan district where different activities take places. However after a century, it is more like an “intra-district-walkway” as it is narrow, dead-ended, and only connected to a relatively larger road, the Hollywood Road with Square Street. It ends with Kwong Fuk Ancestral Hall which is as old as the age of the Tai Ping Shan district. (Photograph of Tai Ping Shan Street today, 2015, Judy Chu.)

 

 

Tai Ping Shan as a community in 2010s
Tai Ping Shan is under the “Central-West District” today, in terms of how the district council identify the district officially. Although this name no longer exist in the map of Hong Kong today since half of it is the current Sai Ying Pun, while the other half belongs to Sheung Wan, the elder generation in the district still claim themselves as residents of “Tai Ping Shan”. In fact, people today seldom name the district by its name, instead they name spots by respective street name.

It’s an area that is changing quickly, however, thanks to gentrification and the possible construction of an escalator up Pound Lane, which has divided opinion in the neighbourhood. For now, it seems to have struck a balance between traditional and trendy and is as friendly as ever.” (DeWolf Christopher, 2014) In the past decade, a lot of cafe, art studio and workshop moved into Tai Ping Shan, which built up an “artsy community”. “Tai Ping Shan may be the oldest neighborhood in the city, but after a face lift it looks younger than ever” (DeWolf Christopher, 2014)

The low-rise neighbourhood and its greenery or trendy art hub and cafe community might have override the history this district have gone through, there are neighborhood community that initiate historical tour or workshop and discussion forum from time to time to promote and educate the general public about Tai Ping Shan and its stories. Therefore Tai Ping Shan is still generally being recognized as one of the oldest district in Hong Kong that visitors should visit according to blogger or journalist.

 

More about Christopher DeWolf’s commentry on SCMP about Tai Ping Shan:

http://www.scmp.com/magazines/48hrs/article/1502616/walk-way-hong-kongs-oldest-neighbourhood-tai-ping-shan-gets-makeover

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