A Flashback to Hong Kong in Year 1961

Aberdeen Harbour, was little more than an overgrown fishing village when this photograph was taken in the early 1960s.

A natural mooring point for Chinese fishing boats, the harbor then was home to some 150,000 people.

Aberdeen Harbour, a sheltered channel on the southwest coast of Hong Kong Island, was little more than an overgrown fishing village when this photograph was taken in the early 1960s. A natural mooring point for Chinese fishing boats, the harbor then was home to some 150,000 people of mostly Tanka and Hoklo descent—families who worked, lived, and slept on small flat-bottomed sampans or junks.

The boat-building docks that once lined the anchorage have since been replaced by bristling residential towers and factories on both sides of the water (the island of Ap Lei Chau, which encloses the harbor on its seaward side, is considered the second-most densely populated island on the planet), and most of the sampans have been displaced by large fishing vessels and luxury yachts.

Still, Aberdeen remains home to some 6,000 fisherfolk, who supplement their incomes by ferrying tourists around the harbor or to the jetty at Jumbo Kingdom, the world’s largest floating restaurant.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017/January 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“1961”).

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