15 vintage photos that show what Hong Kong looked like in the 1950s and 1960s

Hong Kong 50sFan Ho photographs courtesy of Themes+Projects, San FranciscoA composite image of Hong Kong in 1958 and 2010.

Hong Kong is very different today from how it was in the 1950s and ’60s.

At that point in time, it was still under British rule, instead of operating under an autonomous government like it does today. The Korean War had virtually stopped China’s export trade, which severely hurt Hong Kong’s economy.

Award-winning photographer Fan Ho arrived in Hong Kong in 1949. Ever since then, he has used his camera to capture the area’s colourful street life.

In his most recent book, A Hong Kong Memoir, Ho digs through his old archives to put forth never-before-seen images from the ’50s and ’60s.

Hong Kong was under British rule from 1842 to 1997.

Upon moving there in 1949, Ho described Hong Kong as 'new and exciting'.

'Hong Kong then (in the '50s and '60s), was a mixture of old China mixed with new West -- a new frontier,' Ho said.

Ho's photos give his audience a stunning view of what Hong Kong was like in those days.

'I want to transport them to the Hong Kong of yesterday,' he said.

Many of the places that are considered high-end in Hong Kong today were home to poor Chinese communities back in the '50s and '60s.

Ho was most interested in the people living in the impoverished areas of Hong Kong.

'I find the children, old, poor, serenity, and chaotic very interesting,' he said.

Ho's main goal was simply to document the daily activity that he witnessed.

He captured all of his images with a film camera and worked in a dark room. He focused not only on what the image should look like, but also how it should feel.

Back in 2010, Ho revisited old negatives from his film that had never been printed.

This is when he got the idea to create new work with his old work.

Ho created these new images by holding up two negatives into the light, finding a composition that he liked, and combining the negatives onto the scanner to digitize it.

'My representative, Mark Pinsukanjana, and I were in the process of archiving my old negatives,' Ho said. 'I have done some negative sandwiching in the past, but one day, Mark and I experimented in mixing the boat scene and street scene together, hence this image was born.'

'This is what Hong Kong is all about, a crash of old and new,' Ho said. 'This crash and blend is inevitable with old world of the East and new world of the West.'

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