Open Historical Map/Projects/City of Victoria

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Project Description

City of Victoria was the first area developed by the British since the beginning of the colonial era of Hong Kong. It is situated on the North shore of Hong Kong Island, from around Navy Bay/Shektongtsui to Sookunpo Valley/East Point (later extended to the West when Kennedytown was built in the 1880s). The area is still statutorily defined as the City of Victoria, but the area is more commonly known as Central & Western and Wanchai Districts nowadays.

Mapping work on this area currently mainly focuses on the period circa 1900 in the districts of Choongwan, Sheongwan and Taipingshan, though some notable buildings in other districts of the city has also been mapped.

What has been mapped

  • History of coastlines: 90% of the land reclamation since the 1840s have been traced, except the Naval Dockyard (natural coastline unclear)
  • Nodes for native villages around the entire Hong Kong Island
  • Major and minor streets in the City (most back alleys not yet mapped)
  • Major buildings and piers from 1897
  • Changing district boundaries from 1857 till 1888 (四環__約) and the other districts on the Island outside of the City as defined in 1857

Timeline of Available Maps

1843: PLAN OF VICTORIA, DECEMBER, 1843 from Public Records Office, Ref: MM-0241

1845: PLAN OF VICTORIA, 1845 from Public Records Office, Ref: MM-0230

1856: MAP OF VICTORIA, 1856 from Public Records Office, Ref: MM-0203

The map is dated "circa 1856". Useful for studying parts of the city's coastline prior to the construction of a seawall and the Praya.

1866: PLAN OF VICTORIA, HONG KONG, 1866 China Directory, 1867 1866 from Public Records Office, ref: MM-0242

This map cannot be warped into an overlay image layer, but the buildings can be located based on the streets.

1875: PLAN OF VICTORIA, 1875 from Public Records Office, ref: MM-0123

1889: Plan of the City of Victoria Hong Kong from Data.gov.hk

https://data.gov.hk/en-data/dataset/hk-leandsd-openmap-plan-of-the-city-of-victoria-hong-kong

This 1889 map is available as a geo-referenced GEOTIFF file. Useful for studying the coastline prior to the Praya Reclamation in the 1890s.

1897: 1897 Hong Kong Map from Data.gov.hk

https://data.gov.hk/en-data/dataset/hk-landsd-openmap-1897-hong-kong-map

This map of 29 sheets was created by the Surveyor-General in 1897, thus objects are depicted based on accurate measurements (except the part past Sookunpo). It covers the City of Victoria, from Kennedytown to Hoongheongloo (present day Tin Hau area). This map is available as a geo-referenced images in GEOTIFF format, allowing convenient imagery overlay in JOSM. Unfortunately, out of the 29 sheets, sheets #1, 20, 23, 24, 28 are missing from the data. Hence, areas such as Stone Nullah Lane, Wongnaichung and Sookunpo could not be mapped based on the 1897 map.

This detailed map shows all streets/alleys with English names, all buildings with street numbers, and names of significant buildings in the city.

1901: PLAN OF VICTORIA 1901 from Public Records Office, Ref: HKRS209-1-1

The 1901 version of the Surveyor-General's map, except all 29 sheets are available. Like the 1897 map, this is drawn by the Surveyor-General based on accurate measurements, with higher accuracy and details especially in Hoonghoengloo and Tai Hang Villages. This map is not available digitally on the government Open Data site, and the hard copy of the map is accessible at the Public Records Office. Hence, the imagery are not automatically geo-referenced.

Notable developments from 1897 to 1901

  • Streets on site of Hoongheongloo Valley named in 1901
  • New piers on the new Praya Reclamation

Primary Documentary Resources

The maps above could only confirm a building's or a land feature's existent at a certain year, but they do not tell the start or end dates of an objects. Digging into the following resources would provide a more definitive answer on the dates:

Hong Kong University's Government Reports Online

https://sunzi.lib.hku.hk/hkgro/index.jsp

This site provides government reports (e.g. Gazette, Annual Reports) from 1842 up until the beginning of WWII. Relevant documents include:

  • Gazette - e.g. tenders for construction or demolition of buildings.
  • Annual Report from the Surveyor-General / Public Works Department (under Administrative Reports) - e.g. Praya Reclamation progress, road work

Hong Kong University's Historical Laws of Hong Kong Online

https://oelawhk.lib.hku.hk/exhibits/show/oelawhk/home

Useful for studying the redefinition of districts with Ordinances.

Secondary Resources for Reference and Preliminary Research

  • Wikipedia
  • Gwulo.com

Potential Sources

British National Archives

Some maps and building plans available there might be useful for tracing, the major obstacle is the issue of licensing. To make the maps suitable for tracing, one must go physically to their reading room and make their own reproduction/digitization of the plan that is in public domain.