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October 27, 2021

40 Amazing Color Photographs That Capture Everyday Life in Hong Kong in the 1970s

Hong Kong in the 1970s underwent many changes that shaped its future, led for most of the decade by its longest-serving and reform-minded Governor, Murray MacLehose. Economically, it reinvented itself from a manufacturing base into a financial centre.

The late 1970s saw increases in land prices. Along with the opening up of global trade with China via the 1978 economic reforms, factories were gradually relocated to the mainland, where labor costs were lower.

Following decades of immense and sustained immigration, the shortage of housing in the territory became acute. Many lived in squatter settlements or boats, where they were susceptible to typhoons, fires and landslides. To improve the quality of public housing and relieve overcrowded conditions, the government announced the Ten-year Housing Programme in 1972, with the goal of providing quality housing for 1.8 million people in 10 years. The Hong Kong Housing Authority was formed to spearhead the program. The government also introduced the Home Ownership Scheme in 1976, building houses and selling them at below-market prices to help people own property.

Wellcome, the first supermarket in Hong Kong, was opened in Central in 1970. It was called "Gweilo market" by some locals, as most customers were westerners during the initial period of its operation, but Chinese citizens would soon embrace this new kind of store. By 1975, more than 200 big- and small-scaled supermarkets could be found in the city. These new stores eliminated most traditional rice dealers, wine shops and convenient stores. Wellcome and PARKnSHOP did not take long to capture the market. The front and full page ads of these two mega franchises aided in their increase in popularity where smaller traditional stores couldn’t.

Here, a collection of 40 amazing photographs of Hong Kong in the 1970s:












































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