Historic centre of colonial power
Unlike other colonial powers, the British were never too concerned with orderly urban planning, and Hong Kong’s narrow, meandering streets are a testament to that. But the British did give Hong Kong a formal centre: Statue Square.
The square was laid out in front of Hong Kong’s most important institutions: the High Court, the banks and the trading houses. A statue of Queen Victoria rose in the middle.
When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in 1941, they were quick to remove the statue of Queen Victoria. After the war, it was restored and placed in the newly-built Victoria Park. The only statue that remains in the square honours Sir Thomas Jackson, the third chief manager of HSBC.
Bankrolling the city
The HSBC headquarters is given pride of place in Statue Square, reflecting the close relationship between business and government in Hong Kong. Three generations of the bank’s headquarters have stood on the same site. The latest was designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1984. It was well ahead of its time when it opened, with a unique modular construction and sustainable features like daylighting, a seawater cooling system and sun shades that keep the building cool.
So long, shoreline
Stand on the northern edge of Statue Square and you will find yourself on what was once Hong Kong’s shoreline. Several stages of reclamation have since moved it far out into the harbor. Learn more about this in the permanent historical exhibition in the space beneath the HSBC building.