1930s Li Yuen Street West | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1930s Li Yuen Street West

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1930s Li Yuen Street West

Where: This postcard is just labeled "Street Scene HK", so I'm hoping you can help identify this one. Here are the clues I can spot:


The Hong Kong Culture Press had an office here, Tel: 33231. I haven't found any mention of them on the web though.

Looking at the shadows the sun is on our left, so we're facing roughly towards the west. Then looking ahead, we can see buildings:

End of the road

So this road is either a dead-end, or more likely there is a T-junction at the end.

Does anyone recognise it?

When: Probably mid- to late-1930s, based on the other postcards in this album.

Who: The street is lined with small businesses. We can see some of the owners / workers in the background, as well as local residents going about their business.


What: The ground is wet, and first I thought someone had thrown water out from their shop. Looking closer, the more likely source for the water is higher up:


Note that the poles extend right across the street, which must have needed friendly neighbours. And long bamboo loaded with wet clothes would be hard to navigate across the street. Or did they put the bamboo across first, then slide the clothes along it?

Regards, David

Update, 24 Oct 2018: Changed the spelling of the street name from "Lee Yuen" to the current Government spelling "Li Yuen".

Elsewhere on Gwulo.com this week:

  • I'll give a talk on Wednesday morning, 18th June: http://gwulo.com/node/19912
  • Can you spare 30 minutes? We're typing up the old Hong Kong Jurors Lists page by page to post online for all to use - they're a great resource. Please help us type a page, it takes around 30 minutes: http://gwulo.com/node/19905
  • Richard is looking for photos of the Crocodile that watched over Conder's Bar: http://gwulo.com/node/19902
  • Tom Dempster would like to hear from any old friends. He grew up in Hong Kong in the 1940s-60s: http://gwulo.com/node/19854

Reference: A280T

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Tuesday, January 1, 1935


Hi there,

I looked up the signage of 保心安油膏總發行處 and got a string of old posts at Uwants.  The good folks had gone to the extreme, looking up nearly all the visible sinages using cross references in almanacs and year books and they concluded that the street should be Lee Yuen Street West.

Thanks & Best Regards,


Hi Thomas,

That makes sense:

  • narrow street
  • sloping down from Queen's Road
  • rickshaw means it probably near the bottom of the hill

I got the shadows wrong though, the sun is behind our left shoulder, and shining on the Des Voeux Rd. C. buildings at the end of this steet.

Thanks for tracking this down, and to the Uwants readers for their research.

Regards, David


Thanks tngan for the link.  Photo on Page 135  was looking east along Berwick St just past Nam Cheong.  Virtually all the buildings on the south side remain standing today (GoogleMaps).   In the early 60s, I climbed those steps and walked on that inclined road which were new at the time; and heard the steps were meant  to be temporary.  I wonder when they leveled them.