Hong Kong by escalator
Stretching 800 metres uphill from the financial district, the Central – Mid-levels Escalator snakes through one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most fascinating neighbourhoods. Conceived by engineers in the late 80s as a creative solution to solve the area’s traffic woes, it is billed as the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.
Countless journeys along this unusual corridor inspired my second contribution to They Draw & Travel – one that highlights a few of the treasures that can be found just steps away from the escalator. Had I more room I would have included the well-worn steps of Pottinger Street, designed to allow policemen to travel on horseback, and the curious case of Rednaxela Terrace, whose name stuck after its sign was mistakenly painted right to left, in the old Chinese manner.
Two decades after the escalator’s construction, its success in achieving the intended goal is still debatable. The streets of the Mid-levels remain as gridlocked as ever, but its new landmark has played a major role in rejuvenating major portions of the area. The 1990s saw the swift emergence of SoHo, South of Hollywood Road, an artery named by the British long before the creation of its famous American namesake.
Since then, rising rents have caused the profusion of art galleries, hip bars and restaurants to trickle down the hillside, jostling for space with wet markets and traditional Chinese stores. Between the high rises a few remaining colonial structures look on over weekend revellers and the day-to-day activities of long-term residents. Treading a precarious balance between old and new, it’s an eclectic blend that is reflective of Hong Kong as a whole.