Introduction reference booklist online resources Socio-history Table



Passing by 50 years- The story of Kwun Tong

The history of Kwun Tong originated in the Song Dynasty which was approximately 700 years ago. At that time, Hong Kong could not be found on the map and people hardly knew anything about it. Flipping over the historical document, Xinan Gazetteer, Kwun Tong was formerly called ‘Koon Fu Cheng’ or ‘Koon Tong’, naming after the governmental salt yards. The heart of the town was not in Yue Man Square but in Cha Kwo Ling and the Ngau Tau Kok villages. Time flies and everything has changed. The prosperity of the past salt yards could no longer be found in today's world. To talk about today's Kwun Tong, we ought to start talking from the early 1950s.

The first generation of Kwun Tong “redevelopment”

After war, the Government investigated into the expansion of industrial lands and Kwun Tong was one of the chosen sites. Why? The major reason was based on its advantageous geography. At that time, Kwun Tong was near the urban area and the Kwun Tong Road was still an overhanging cliff. There was a small massif (Black Hill) above the Yue Man Square. By removing it, there would be enough soil for reclamation. Unlike those original habitants in Tsuen Wan who needed to resolve their resettling problems, there were less people being influenced by the reclamation project. There were only some mud-larks who lived in the log cabins near the seaside garbage heap. They were the first generation that was influenced by the Kwun Tong “Redevelopment” Project. Fortunately, the resettlement went on smoothly and people continually moved to the Ngau Tau Kok Resettlement Estate in 1955.

Kwun Tong is the first new town in Hong Kong and it was formerly called the Satellite City. We used to separate the ideas from one another but the reconstruction of Kwun Tong had been influencing many other urban designs such as Tsuen Wan and Shatin. Some scholars believed that Kwun Tong was an unsuccessful outcome of the scheme. Yet, it is interesting to find that a lot of sociologists regarded it as a research object of the industrial community and they sought after Kwun Tong community culture such as the folk's religious activities and the running of civil organizations etc.

Undeniably, the current design of Kwun Tong has a huge difference from the past. According to Ebenezer Howard in the 19th century, the conceptual idea of ‘Garden city’ would planned Kwun Tong into residential, industrial and commercial districts separately. This was to establish a low-density yet self-sufficient community. At the beginning of Kwun Tong's development, the traffic was not very inconvenient and there was not a lot of public transportation. After the 1967’s riot, more bus traffic lines were founded. 60 years ago, there were only a few Kwun Tong habitants. Most of them were affected by the urban redevelopment projects and were resettled in Kwun Tong which was far away from the city at that time. For instance, Kai Liu Resettlement Estate (the present Tsui Ping Estate) was for settling the moving residents of Lo Fu Ngam (the present Lok Fu) Lo Fu Mei village and Tung Tau Resettlement Estate. The resettled Kwun Tong residents became the major factor of the prosperous industrial development. They offered a vast amount of cheap labor force and provided profuse human resources to the factory owners. Instead of saying that Kwun Tong was self-sufficient, she was the factory owners’ desired industrial village. The workers’ dormitories were all kinds of resettlement estates and log cabins while the managerial dormitories were located at the mid-level’s Yuet Wah Street despite of its lacking of social facilities like City Hall, sport courts, library etc.

The low density population did not make things work out and that was related to the previous environment. According to the 60s’s construction design, the Yan Oi Court today should be the Kwun Tong City Hall; the hawkers market today was an open space; Yan Oi Court bus stop originally was a courtyard. Unfortunately, a mass of mainland China migrants altered everything. In order to deal with the rapid population growth and the enormous rise of urban density, many items were added in or on top of the buildings. Kwun Tong was no longer as methodical as the government top down planning but the ordinary people’s living space. The roof top became rooftop primary schools and rooftop housings; the street became small stalls and vendor floor stalls. Yan Oi Court’s residence became the centre of family industry and it encountered the daily needs. This was the fundamental idea of the peoples planning.

The struggling behind spaces

The industrialization of Kwun Tong brought in profits to the capitalists and provided jobs to the habitants as well as introduced certain challenges to the Government. Apart from the insufficient social facilities problem, the early Kwun Tong history also showed that it could not be separated from the mainland China’s political changes. Within the large industrial village, most of the workers were refugees who were affected by the mainland politics and poor economy and some were affected by the redevelopment and resettlement. Perhaps they did not need to worry about their jobs but they were bearing with all kinds of environmental problems and air pollution brought by Industrialization. Increasing numbers of migrants also created pressure in civil welfare and security. These problems were not directly faced by the colonial Government.

Different parties were ably formed under such environment. The left wing worker organization was one of the representative examples. The Hong Kong 1967 riots was a turning point of Hong Kong and it also had tremendous influence on Kwun Tong. The well-known left-wing cinema, Silver Cinema was broken in by a group of policemen. Armaments and advertising products were found. Its license was invalidated. Until today, Kwun Tong and North Point were still the centers of the left wing. According to a certain old habitants’ memory, Kwun Tong was still pervaded by a political atmosphere. In the past, there were lots of Chinese flags spreading all over the streets of city centre in every October. It echoes with the same district Tiu Keng Leng’s Blue Sky with White Sun flags. Everything is like saluting to the republicans who were on their way home.

Apart from political ideology, different ethnic groups also helped to shape Kwun Tong’s culture and spaces. Migrants came from Chaozhou, Indonesia and South Asia were all connected through race and kinship. This formed different urban villages. Walking pass the pre-reconstructed city centre, there are different small signboards related to ethnic groups, such as Tung Kun Kinship Society , Kai Ping Hairdresser, Hui Hai minibus station, PAKISTAN. In every Ghost Festival in the seventh lunar month, Chaozhou people will play drama, worship Guan Yin and Ghost King in the park of city centre and Hong Ning Road Recreation Ground. And in every Ksitigarbha Festival in the tenth lunar month, people will play traditional Chao Zhou styled drama in Kai Liu Estate. In the early days, Government seldom intervened social welfare. The ethnic cohesion and self-help formed a local-oriented social network. They helped out and looked after each other. Today, this becomes the care for disadvantaged minority and it formulates different characteristic ethnic culture.

After 1967, Government was conscious of fostering regional administration. The authoritative styled Kwun Tong Kaifong Welfare was established in 1968. In the 70s, Kwun Tong was named as the ‘Little Hong Kong’ as it had the both of the left wing and the right wing group as well as a lot of public housings and private estates. Also, there were different ethnic groups, such as Chaozhou and Ho-Loh. It was a one-sided mirror to reflect the entire situation of Hong Kong. Kwun Tong became an experimental ground for many policy implementations. For example, it was the first urban district to establish District Council and Mutual Aids Committees. It was only after the success of Kwun Tong that the policies were implemented in Hong Kong.

Living in the haze of reconstruction

With more public houses to be built, it was not a problem for Kwun Tong to be a public housing city for 600 thousand people. More than 60% are public houses. The city centre of Kwun Tong continued to be the heart of economy and society, providing cheap goods and public services.

The development of MTR turns Kwun Tong into an urban city. It brings convenience and property development. In the end of 80s and the beginning of 90s, industrial services were well-established and real estate changed Kwun Tong thoroughly. Industry and real estate were always incompatible. The price of real estate always depended on the industrial cost. The real estate industry had the final victory. Industrial owners and their capitals could be invested in China but the workers could not leave. The poor economy was one of the results of de-industrialization. The dock was rebuilt as large residential estates (e.g. Laguna City). Abou ten years, the Kowloon Bay industrial area which finished reclamation in 1990 changed into a commercially used land. The redevelopment devastated industrial estates and changed them into commercial estates or shopping malls for the sake of developers. Meanwhile, a lot of artists rented places in the industrial areas with a cheaper price. They developed the creative industry and Kwun Tong became the one of the most important clusters of Hong Kong film industry. The largest art gallery could also be found in there.

Since the Land Development Corporation (the former Urban Renewal Authority) announced the redevelopment of town centre in 1989. Over the past 20 years, a lot of habitants have come across the Freezing Survey for thrice. They always thought that the redevelopment would soon be implemented. This resulted in the enormous decline of the estate’s quality over the last 20 years and it seriously affected the people’s lives. It was until 2008 that Urban Renewal Authority formally implemented the redevelopment.

In the redevelopment conducted by the Urban Renewal Authority, more than 5000 residents or shop owners have to move out with compensation but do not have the choice to move back. 5.35 hectare of redevelopment, its redevelopment area is 7 times of the project of the Langham Place in Mong Kok. The consumptions of the grass-root, including the shops and bazaars are less than 1 % of the total building area. Streets such as Yue Man Sqaure, Tong Yan Street, Yan Oi Court and Yan Shun Lane are going to disappear on the map forever, leaving the shopping malls and platforms behind. What would Kwun Tong, the grass root people-oriented community be in the future?



Reference Booklist


* A century of Kowloon roads and streets , Cheng Po-hung & Toong Po-ming
* Hong Kong government & politics(香港政府與政治), Sing Ming

Reports from NGO or political party

* Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service annual report
* Kwun Tong Community Development Association. (1980)
* Problems of integrating Chinese and western health services in Hong Kong : topia and utopia. (1974) Social Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Official documents

* Hong Kong mass transit further studies : final report. (1970) Hong Kong : Government Printer
* Kun Tong new town / by Chan Sau Shan. (1958). Hong Kong. Crown Lands and Survey Office

Academic writings

* A Chinese spirit-medium temple in Kwun Tong : a preliminary report / by John T. Myers with the collaboration of Davy Leung
* A study of the role of religious organizations in the Kwun Tong community / by S. Joan Delaney and Chan Ying-keung. (1973) Hong Kong : Social Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong
* Connecting Kwun Tong / Leung Yiu Fai Bernard. (2004)
* Hong Kong Factory bargains / by Dana Goetz. (1988) Hong Kong : Delta Dragon Publications Ltd.
* From village to city : studies in the traditional roots of Hong Kong society / edited by David Faure, James Hayes, [and] Alan Birch. (1984). Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong
* Kowloon east civic centre / by Siu-wing Ho. (1995) Hong Kong : University of Hong Kong,
* Kwun Tong civil/cultural complex / by Muk Fai Yiu. (1995) University of Hong Kong
* Kwun Tong: community within a planned industrial district / by Leeming, Frank
* Kwun Tong industrial area planning study / by chan Kai tin, Kiu Chung Yin, Lam King Ning. (1991)
* Kwun Tong Town Hall / by Wong Kwok Fan, Alfred: (1998).University of Hong Kong
* Land use problems in Hong Kong : a symposium / byS. G. Davis. (1964) Hong Kong University Press
* Political orientations in Hong Kong : a socio-psychological approach. (1972) Hong Kong: Social Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong
* Pollution in the urban environment / edited by P. Hills (1988) Vincent Blue Copy
* Population, housing and the availability of medical & health services in an industrializing Chinese community. Publisher Hong Kong : Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1972
* Public housing development and population movement: a study of Kwun Tong, Hong Kong / by C.Y. Choi [and] Y.K. Chan
* Redevelopment of Yue Man Square / Yuen Ching Man(1997)Hong Kong : University of Hong Kong, 1997
* Redevelopment of Yue Man Square : an alternative streetscape to urban renewal / Ng Wing Lun, Alan
* Renewal of town centre : a case study of Kwun Tong / [by] Ho Chi Wing, Ivan [and others]. IMPRINT n.p. : n. publ, 1985
* The Chinese touch in small industrial organizations / by Ambrose Y.C. King and Davy H.K. Leung. (1975)Hong Kong : Chinese University of Hong Kong, Social Research Centre
* The commercial geography of Hong Kong / by Lai Wing-kam. (1973) Hong Kong : Chinese University of Hong Kong
* The growth pattern of organizations in Kwun Tong. Publisher Hong Kong : Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1972
* The rise and growth of Kwun Tong : a study of planned urban development/ by Chan, Ying Keung (1973). Hong Kong : Social Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong
* The nature of Kwun Tong as an industrial community : an analysis of economic organisations / by Victor Mok.(1972)Chinese University of Hong Kong, Social Research Centre
* The Political Economy of Street Hawkers in Hong Kong Hong Kong: Center of Asian Studies /by Smart, P. L. Josephine (1989) University of Hong Kong
* The spatial distribution of organizations in Kwun Tong. / by Chan, Ying Keung (1972) Chinese University of Hong Kong
* The smart shopper in Hong Kong : your guide to factory outlets and other useful information / by Carolyn Radin. (1996) Hong Kong : P & J Publications, c.
* Sampling in the Kwun Tong industrial community research programme./ by Chan, Ying Keung (1972)Hong Kong : Chinese University of Hong Kong
* Study of industrial and commercial enterprises that need relocation with the airport : final report / Shankland Cox, Arthur D. Little, (1991)Survey Research Hong Kong. Planning Dept.
* Study of the development of new industrial communities in Hong Kong / Chi-wing Ho ... [et al.] (1969)
* Symposium on land use and mineral deposits in Hong Kong, southern China and South-east Asia : proceedings of a meeting held in September 1961 as part of the Golden Jubilee Congress of the University of Hong Kong / edited by S.G. Davis. (1964) Hong Kong : Hong Kong University Press
* Urban Hong Kong : collected essays: population, economy, environment, housing, planning, future, etc. / edited [by] Victor Sit Fung-shuen
* Value changes during a period of modernization : the case of Hong Kong / by Aliza M. Shively and Stan Shively. (1972) Hong Kong: Social Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong



Online Resources

Religious and customs

Religious rituals in Sau Mau Ping (with some videos and pictures; in Chinese)
In 2007
in 2008

Pictures of the ghost festival in kwuntong(in Chinese)
Last Day

The History in Kwuntong

The information about Kwuntong in Hong Kong university

The street culture in Kwuntong, please read this book : Street Studies in Hong Kong: localities in a Chinese city: Kwuntong (1987), Writer : Frank leeming


Wikiipedia about Kwuntong

The website of District council

Kwuntong Station(MTR)

Official statistic data

Introduction of Kwuntong by district council

Pictures and some description about Kwuntong(in Chinese)

Feature in HK magazine

Holland hostel in Kwuntong


Characteristics of the community

The characters in Kwuntong written by district council

The introduction of Kwuntong Redevelopment project by Hong Kong University

Feature in HK magazine about old Kwuntong

Institutions in Kwuntong

Kwuntong district council

Christian Family Service Centre

Information about kwuntong in Social Welfare Department

Kwuntong town centre redevelopment project by Urban Renewal Authority



URA violated my privacy

Feature about old kwuntong in hk magazine

News about Kwuntong town centre redevelopment project

“Iconic tower too tall, town planner says”

Organizations and government agencies

Urban Renewal Authority (URA)

Kwuntong town centre redevelopment project by URA

Compensation in the redevelopment

Kwuntong district council

Lands department

Planning department

Legislation council

Town planning board

Art gallery (Osage) in Kwuntong


Pictures about Kwuntong town centre(in Chinese)
by one0one
by Yo
by Sini
by Joy

Pictures from 40 to 90's(in Chinese)
by Terry Sham
by 壹義衫泗悟錄....拍
by Alan Lam

Pictures in 40’s(in Chinese)

Layout plan of Kwuntong in 1960

Pictures in 60's(in Chinese)
Aerial View of Kwun Tong
1945 HK Kai-Tak Airfield. Kowloon bottom left
1945 Aerial view of Kai-Tak
1945 Kowloon, Hong Kong from the air, November 1945

Pictures from 60’s, including Tsui Ping Estate(in Chinese)

Pictures from a photo workshop about kwuntong (in Chinese)

Kwun Tong living photo set: industrial area(in Chinese)

Old pictures in Hong Kong and Kwuntong(in Chinese)
wun Tong swimming pools and others
Cha Kwo Ling in 50's & Kowloon east
Old Hong Kong pictures(in Chinese)
Pictures of San Mau Ping(in Chinese)
Village in Tiu Keng Leng(in Chinese)
Tiu Keng Leng in 70's & 80's
Old pictures in Ngau Tau Kok estate(in Chinese)

Old pictures in Yau Tong(in Chinese)
60's &90's

Pictures from a residents in Ngau Tau Kok estate(in Chinese)

Old pictures in Kowloon Bay(in Chinese)


Socio-history Table (#Source: The years of Kai Fong Association's annual report)

Asiatic Petroleum Co. build the oil tank and the dumping ground
Old Republican soldiers were forced to move to Tiu Keng Leng
Starting to design the new industrial area
Government selected Kwan Tong as the new industrial area; the start of reclamation
Starting reclaiming constructional project
Kwan Tong blockhouses' residents moved to Ngau Tau Kok Resettlement Estate
Designed Kwan Tong into an industrial city with 120 thousand population
Selling out the industrial lands
Finished reclamation
Selling out the residential lands
Huge construction of the industries and residences
Confirm the Kai Liu construction project (Settling the residences of the Lo Fu Mei blockhouse and Tung Tau
The first bus line11B, from Kowloon City dock to Yue Man Square
The first industrial investment
The earliest residential garden and the confirmation of Kai Liu Resettlement Estate (Hong Kong Housing Society)
Kwan Tong Advisors Committee designed the city centre; targeted population at 250 thousand people
Following the above plans, the reclaimed lands are in front of the Ngau Tau Kok village; building clinical centers, police stations, fire stations, docks, roads, bus stops and Wo Lok Estate   1972
The openings of Yue Man Square's banks, Chinese restaurants
Building Central Government Office (Finished at 1962)
Finished constructing Kwan Tong dock
The Building Advisor's Wo Lok Estate was on sale
Shortage of water
Kwan Tong and North Point Ferry were established
The opening of Yindu
The construction of Sau Mau Ping
The construction of Yau Tong residential area
The construction of Ham Tin Estate (Lam Tin)
The opening of Bonds cinema
Government promised to improve the traffic of Kwan Tong and created less traffic jams
People moved into Lam Ti, settling Kowloon Bay Resettlement Estate and the boat households   1989
Developing Kowloon Bay, the original residences were resettled to Lam Tin and Shau Mau Ping public houses   1989
Hong Kong 1967 riots, Silver cinema was closed up by the Government
Kwan Tong Kaifong Welfare was established
Kwan Tong Home Affairs was established, strengthening the regional administration, helping to establish Mutual Aids Committees. It was not successful at the beginning until 1973.   1975,1989
Holland Reformed Church donated Holland Hostel for teenagers; until 1979, the Government subsidized.
Ping Shek Estate was built   1989
United Christian Hospital was being constructed
Cha Kwo Ling, Yau Tong, Lei Yue Mun Outline Zoning Plan
Industrial areas planned to set up security teams to maintain public security, but it was not finally carried out
Undersea tunnel was being built
The nearby Kwan Tong dock's bus stops and malls were built
Kei Liu landslide, 71 people were killed
United Christian Hospital was built
Kwan Tong Resident Union was established
ICAC was established
The mass of blockhouses created social problems   1975
Shau Mau Ping landslide, 18 people died and 24 injured people
The redevelopment of Kai Liu   1989
Lok Wah Estate was rebuilt (originally was Cottage Resettlement Area), all were established in 1985.
The opening usage of Kwan Tong MTR
The temporary industrial resettlement estate in Sam Ka Tsuen and Sai Tso Wan was for the affected industrial owners; Resettlement in Kowloon Bay was too expensive in 1982 with doubled market price.   1989
Social Welfare Department outline zoning system, formed Kwan Tong branch   1989
The first Hong Kong District Council was established   1989
Government cancelled the payment by installment and best lending rate of the public auction, raising the cost of selling the lands of Kowloon Bay, real estate was inactive   1989
Shun Li and Shun On Estate were built   1989
Kai Yip Estate was built, resettled the residents who were affected by the redevelopment project
Finished reconstructing Kei Liu, about 33000 could move back to the original site (70% of the overall)
Hong Kong's future talk between Britain and Chinese govenment
Hing Tin Estate (Lam Tin) was built
Mass removal of extended items on buildings
Shui Wo Street market was built
Land Development Corporation announced Kwan Tong city centre redevelopment project
Artists, South Asia people continually moved into Kwan Tong (Mainly industrial areas and malls)
The declining of Hong Kong textile industry
Kowloon Bay reclamation project was finished (Started at 1977)
Yip Kai Foon repeatedly robbed 7 gold shops in Hong Ning Street
Government planned to auction the Kwan Tong Government Offices and health centre's land; but was objected by local socio-community and it was put aside
Hong Kong's regime was handed over to China
Land Development Corporation suggested the Kwan Tong Redevelopment project again but it was not successful
Town Planning Board made Kwan Tong industrial area (The largest industrial area in HK) to be reconstructed as the“Other Specified Uses” annotated “Business” zone
The opening of APM
Urban Renewal Authority re-launched the Kwan Tong Redevelopment Project
The largest commercial contemporary art space in Hong Kong was opened in Osage
Urban Renewal Authority announced the compensation of redevelopment project