Etched into the memory of many Hong Kongers, neon signs have become a symbol of Hong Kong at home and abroad. Everyone has seen the vibrant pictures of Wan Chai’s streets, awash in a kaleidoscope of colour. These neon hues also provided the backdrop for famed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai’s movies as well as numerous Hollywood blockbusters and computer games, establishing themselves as an iconic part of the cityscape.
From the 1920s, the glow of neon lights started to creep into Hong Kong. As the city became more prosperous, neon began to light up streets from Kowloon to Wan Chai. In the 1980s, which was Hong Kong’s neon heyday, the intense glow became a part of the fabric of the city’s nights. Buildings supported the weight of hundreds of signs. The bright yellows, greens, and reds, stacked on top of each other, lit up the city. From hotels to restaurants to bars, businesses would rely on neon signs to advertise their services.
However, the glow is somewhat dimming now as Hong Kong’s government has tightened regulations surrounding these iconic lights. Almost 90% of the once smouldering lights have now been removed. The government removed lights they deemed too big or hung too far out over the pavement and replaced them with much cheaper, mass-produced LEDs. Today, the remainder of neon signs can mostly be found in Wan Chai or Mong Kok and still give certain roads the nostalgic feel of old Hong Kong.
Here we take a look back at Hong Kong in all its colourful glory:
Portland Street, Mong Kok - 2008 (Image courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Nathan Road, Kowloon - 2009 (Image courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Nathan Road, Kowloon - 2013 (Image courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Temple Street Market (Image courtesy of Nikada, Canva)