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Notes on the Geography of China: Hong Kong

Although it's intensely crowded, most of Hong Kong is empty. People are jammed together partly because some of Hong Kong's islands are inaccessible by public transportation, but also partly because much of Hong Kong is very mountainous, and partly as well--perhaps mostly--because the government of Hong Kong has exercised controls over land use that advocates of open space in many other countries can only dream about.

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China: Hong Kong  picture 1

Looking west from Hong Kong Park, in the aptly named Central District. That dome covers the Legislative Council, known locally as Legco.

China: Hong Kong  picture 2

The old Court of Final Appeal, shown in relation to Victoria Peak and the residential towers of Mid-Levels.

China: Hong Kong  picture 3

St. John's Cathedral, fairly lost beneath the proud bank logos.

China: Hong Kong  picture 4

The Museum of Tea Ware, within Hong Kong Park. The background tower was built as the Bond Centre.

China: Hong Kong  picture 5

Designed by Paul Rudolph, it later became the Lippo Centre.

China: Hong Kong  picture 6

As happens to every "tallest" building, I.M. Pei's Bank of China tower (1990) was overtaken by another skyscraper a few years later. It still retains, however, that praying mantis quality that made it so ominous in 1989, when it rose freshly over the city and made very clear to everyone just who was very soon to be in charge.

China: Hong Kong  picture 7

Residential towers under construction.

China: Hong Kong  picture 8

At its foot, this sign.

China: Hong Kong  picture 9

Potted mandarins at a nursery near the southern portal of the Aberdeen Tunnel.

China: Hong Kong  picture 10

A driveway at the same place.

China: Hong Kong  picture 11

A ferry from Kowloon arrives at the Star Ferry Pier.

China: Hong Kong  picture 12

Very close by is the terminal for the airport express, with trains to the new airport at Chek Lap Kok.

China: Hong Kong  picture 13

The "Manhattan" view of Hong Kong: Victoria from Kowloon. 

China: Hong Kong  picture 14

The tallest building in the preceding picture: the International Finance Centre's 2 IFC, designed by Cesar Pelli and chock full of bankers.

China: Hong Kong  picture 15

Around on the west side of the island, at Telegraph Bay, is Cyberport, owned by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  The project was contracted out, without competitive bidding, to PCCW (Pacific Century Cable & Wireless), a descendant of Hong Kong Telephone that is headed by Li Ka-shing's son.  The plan was to create a mix of residences, shops, and offices for 10,000 IT professionals, but, at best, the project's timing was wrong: the big tenants vanished with the telecom bust, even before the office buildings opened.

China: Hong Kong  picture 16

Things are still mighty quiet in the gleaming halls, designed by Arquitectonica.  The largest tenant is the owner, PCCW, and overall occupancy as of late 2004 was only 45%.

China: Hong Kong  picture 17

There's shopping here at the Arcade, on levels connected by starship escalators.

China: Hong Kong  picture 18

Video displays remind visitors that this is an IT paradise.

China: Hong Kong  picture 19

Nearby is what some skeptics think is the real agenda: 2,900 apartments on the 50-acre waterfront site. 

China: Hong Kong  picture 20

Status symbols abound.

China: Hong Kong  picture 21

The sign suggests that this is home of the elite.

China: Hong Kong  picture 22

Does it look elite?  (Yes, these are the same buildings.)

China: Hong Kong  picture 23

And here's Cyberport surrounded by other highrises.


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