By Arthur Tam
Have you ever wondered how some of Hong Kong's streets got their names? Various streets in Eastern District alone have fascinating stories behind. Here are a few of the most colourful ones.
Tong Chong Street (Image 1)
A Sweet Memory
You might know Tong Chong Street (translation: sugar factory street) as the bustling outdoor space at Taikoo Place that hosts popular Swire Properties events like Tong Chong Street Market or White Christmas Street Fair. But before it was lined with restaurants, this area was home to the Taikoo Sugar Refinery Company Limited and Duro Paint Manufacturing Company Limited. Around the corner was the Coco-Cola bottling factory, which was approximately where Cambridge House is now. At one point the Taikoo Sugar Refinery was one of the largest and most sophisticated single-unit refineries in the world.
Tsat Tsz Mui Road (Images 2 & 3)
The Bond of Sisterhood
Tsat Tsz Mui Road (translation: seven sisters road) is widely associated with an urban legend of seven sisters who made a pact vowing they would never marry. When the third eldest sister was forced to wed by her family, the rest of the women, in an act of solidarity, committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea and drowning. Their bodies were never found, but seven boulders mysteriously appeared by the coastline and were there until the area was reclaimed. This folktale of defiance is the rumoured reason Tsat Tsz Mui Road got its name.
Java Road (Images 4 & 5)
A Gateway To Indonesia
This road was named after the Indonesian city of Java because this used to be where the Dutch shipping firm Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij conducted trade between Jakarta, Hong Kong and Shanghai. But even before then, Dutch settlers were coming to North Point: in 1897, the Royal Dutch Shell Company, which we recognise in Shell petrol stations, set up an office. This drew workers mostly from Fujian and Southeast Asia, turning North Point into a thriving commercial area. You can find many shops opened by Indonesians and Chinese Indonesians hidden around Java Road. For example, on the nearby Marble Road, you can find Natural Coconut Shot (天然椰子號), which opened about 50 years ago and sells delicious hearts of palm and the tastiest split pea coconut pudding in town (they only make 25 servings per day).
King's Road (Images 6 & 7)
Wealth and Royalty
Kings’s Road is the main road in Eastern District, running from North Point to Taikoo Shing. The road grew rapidly from 1880 to the early 20th century. It was originally called Shaukeiwan Road, with the purpose of linking Causeway Bay to Shau Kei Wan. In 1935, the section running from North Point to Taikoo Shing were renamed King’s Road in honour of King George V silver jubilee celebrations. During the Second World War, when Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese, King's Road was briefly named Fung Gwok Tung (豐國通), which translates to ‘rich nation road’.
Shipyard Lane (Images 8 & 9)
A Maritime Past
As you might have guessed, this street is related to Hong Kong’s maritime past, more specifically to the former Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Company. Shipyard Lane is where the west entrance to the dockyard was located and was in the early days also the steel storage yard. Approximately 20 acres of land was reclaimed below the hill where Shipyard Lane remains today to create the dockyard, which complemented the business of the nearby sugar refinery. The bustling dockyard was home to thousands of workers, many of whom still live in surrounding area. Now under Swire Properties, the area has transformed into a thriving commercial hub highlighted by Cityplaza and the business hotel East, Hong Kong.
Want to learn more about the history of the Eastern District? Check out our story on historic hotspots.