形品 , 明園西街38號北角, 香港島
North Point as the name suggests, is situated at the most northern tip of Hong Kong Island, this large predominantly residential area spans from Tin Hau all the way to Quarry Bay. Its namesake, the “point” was originally referred to as the thin and narrow point of land that jutted into the harbour, but like most of the northern side of Hong Kong Island, extensive land reclamation has since subsumed this geographic feature. North Point was one of the earliest areas that were developed in Hong Kong, with an area this large and being in a prime location, North Point is unsurprisingly rich with history and even today one can spot many remnants that mark the different periods of its development.
In the early 1900’s North Point was largely uninhabited and mostly consisted of just a steep narrow road that ran from Central to the eastern parts of the Island. With the fruition of early reclamation efforts, in 1919 the Hong Kong Electric Company completed its second Power Station on top of this virgin ground and sparked that start of North Point’s industrialization and then subsequent urbanisation. This power station was eventually decommissioned in 1978, and on its site now stands the renowned City Gardens Housing development, though constant reminders of its presence remain with street names that are still in use including Power St, Electric St, and Tin Chong St (Electric Factory St).
Before the end of World War 2, North Point was mostly an industrial area with an operating wharf, Power Station, factory buildings and a nationalist refugee camp. This refugee camp was later used by the Japanese to house specifically Canadian P.O.W.’s, and like the many sites with an unfortunate history in Hong Kong, the former P.O.W. camp was transformed into a public park or more specifically the King’s Rd Playground.
After the end of World War 2, urbanisation of North point took a rapid up swing with the huge influx of Shanghainese and Northern Chinese escaping from the Civil War raging in the Mainland. This sudden population boom in North Point quickly fuelled the rapid redevelopment and transformation of the area. The Shanghainese community grew so large during this period that in the 1950’s North Point was commonly known as little Shanghai. But eventually with the growing affluence of the early generation of immigrants, assimilation, and the end of the China Civil War the Shaihanese started to disperse along with their dominant presence, though, their cultural influence is still present and can be seen in North Point today.
To have a sense of how quick the increase in the population was and the pace of urbanization, by the end of the 1960’s North Point was listed as the most densely populated place on the planet in the Guinness Book of World Record. Even till this day North Point remains as one of the densest residential areas in Hong Kong. But larger and more sparse modern apartments are slowly starting to replace the predominately high density housing in the area.
With the seemingly relentless gentrification and modernization in Hong Kong, it was to the relief of Hong Kong citizens that the Historical Sunbeam Chinese Opera Theatre was allowed to remain in operation after its hotly contested lease renewal in 2009. Overall North Point has fared much better than other areas of Hong Kong and has been able to retain plenty of culturally significant icons and reminders of how far the area and Hong Kong has become, and hopefully North Point will continue to retain its old Hong Kong charm.