Leisure & Culture #84

Around PMQ: Step onto the staircase with a hundred years of history

Staircase Street, Shing Wong Street and their vicinity

Written & Photos by PMQ Life

Location: Staircase Street, Shing Wong Street and their vicinity

PMQ is perched on a hillside with ramps and staircases. The neighbouring Shing Wong Street and Staircase Street have a rich history spanning over a century.

Shing Wong Street was recently proposed as a Grade II historical building by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO). On the other hand, Staircase Street, constructed in 1841 during Hong Kong's early days, is now classified as a Grade I historical building. To address the scarcity of building space on the flat land of Hong Kong Island, the decision was made to open up the hill without any reclamation projects. Staircase Street begins at Queen's Road Central and ascends the hill, passing through Lascar Row, Hollywood Road, Square Street, Bridges Street, and U Lam Terrace , eventually reaching Caine Road. Its total length spans 350 meters.

Although most of the surrounding buildings have been demolished and reconstructed over the years, remnants of history can still be found. The name " Lascar Row " suggests its previous association with Indian traders. In the early 20th century, Chinese vendors began to gather and sell antique items and paintings.

The stairs and fences, once made of granite, have mostly been replaced with concrete. However, granite staircases can still be seen near the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road and the manhole cover of the Wuhan Foundry from the 1960s, providing glimpses into the history of the unsanitary Tai Ping Shan area, which experienced a bubonic plague outbreak. The Bridges Street Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, constructed in 1918 in a neo-classical style with red bricks and green tiles, was recently designated as a declared monument.

Further up the staircase, U Lam Terrace, known as the "Forest of Confucians," was once home to many intellectuals in the 1930s. Adjacent to U Lam Terrace is Rozario Street, a street often overlooked. " Rozario " is a Portuguese word, indicating that Portuguese individuals used to reside and conduct trade in Hong Kong, with only the road name remaining as a reminder.

Despite taking less than 30 minutes to traverse, Staircase Street has witnessed a century of history.

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