View Full Version : Looking for Information on Hong Kong ca: 1923

Bren McDonnall
07-22-2016, 08:08 AM
I've got some things going on that take place in a sort of mercenary hangout in Hong Kong in the early '20s. (1923 specifically) Street names, district names and such. Examples of businesses, maybe.

I'm trying to find maps and/or district names or other historical data.


Siri Kirpal
07-22-2016, 09:47 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Have you tried tourist guidebooks? They sometimes have historical info, and they nearly always have street maps.

Sometime in the '50s, a friend of the family went to Hong Kong and wandered into a back alley. He discovered a place where an elderly man was carving elephant ivory. (Legal then.) The man said, "I make many antique for Missi Gump." (San Francisco high end department story) I would assume in your time period their were similar men (maybe even the same guy) doing similar things.


Siri Kirpal

07-22-2016, 11:07 PM
You might search loc.gov. They've a tremendous collection of photographs, stereographs and maps.

The Hong Kong History Museum has some cool stuff, like this. (javascript:void(0);)

OldMapsOnline.org (http://www.oldmapsonline.org/en/Hong_Kong#bbox=114.15728704257208,22.2789951755575 54,114.16622263627232,22.285382703964903&q=&date_from=0&date_to=1910&scale_from=&scale_to=) has a really sweet zoom map with a time slider.

A simple Google Image search with "Hong Kong" street and a year produces a wealth of images, some with street and building names. Like the cenotaph near Statue Square (http://hkcssst.net/web_2013_oct/oldHK/OldHK_1.html) and the images found here. (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/309692911846928662/)

07-24-2016, 01:07 PM
When researching HK's history, which part of HK do you need? The place might be small, but there are distinct areas:

Hong Kong Island
Kowloon (penninsula)
Northern New Territories
New Territories (Sai Kung)

07-24-2016, 01:10 PM
Do you know what's great for this sort of thing? Self-pubbed memoirs. I just love them.

07-25-2016, 08:33 AM
Also, you might want to look up Kowloon's Walled City -- as much corruption and Triad-related things as you'd like.

07-25-2016, 09:12 AM
Also, you might want to look up Kowloon's Walled City -- as much corruption and Triad-related things as you'd like.

Kowloon's Walled City is fascinating and there is lots of documentation of it online. I used some concepts from it in my book.

Bren McDonnall
07-26-2016, 05:41 AM
Thanks, everybody for everything so far. I did some google searches before creating this thread, but most of what I found were much more modern maps. The one great site for old maps of HK I did find was, unfortunately, a PDF of the maps on hand, and would have required a trip to HK to view. So, no joy there.

I'm not entirely sure which section would be best, as I was going to use the maps to try and determine that.

Here's the setup, and maybe somebody might have suggestions.

It's an alternate history piece that splits from our timeline in 1888. A portal is found by the British army in North Africa, opening into a second world.

There is no WWI. Instead, beginning with the discovery of the portal, a series of brush wars are fought for access/control of the portal and the resources (including land) on the far side.

A secret war is raging between forces of the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' that rages across the world, but without any official notice. Piracy is rampant. Airships of various bent are far more plentiful than they were in our timeline.

In Hong Kong, there is a place called Madam Wu's. The Madam offers various services to her clients ranging from food and drink, to tattoos, to less savory products.

More importantly (for the story, at least) Madam Wu's serves as a ruthlessly enforced neutral location for the warriors of these altercations to relax without fear of spies or assassins. Meetings can be arranged, prisoner transfers, etc. So, soldiers, sailors, pirates, mercenaries, adventurers. You know, the kind of place you'd be likely to find Hemingway drinking gin in a corner of.

Since at least one or two episodes of the overall story will take place in and around Madam Wu's, the more I can glean of what was actually there, the better, although I'm granted a good deal of liberty due to the alternate timeline nature of the universe.

I'd like the district to be as genuine as possible. I'm not so worried about the authenticity of the individual streets, although that would be great. It needs to be near the waterfront, for obvious reasons.

I've been busy getting things nailed down with my publisher regarding a different work over the past week, so I haven't had time to delve too deeply into this aspect of this story. After this coming Friday, though, I'll be full bore into the new project. Which means acting on the links and suggestions I've gotten thus far.

Thanks again.

07-26-2016, 09:12 AM
Oh-ho.... sounds like you need Kowloon's Walled City.

Essentially: piracy, drug traffickers, traffickers, triads, territory grabs, and a strange mutual respect between rival gangs. Any number of unsavoury joints and services, and corrupted officials, etc. Take your pick.

Oh yes, narrow streets, close buildings, fire-hazards, explosive tempers. I think a little more info is needed?



https://www.google.com.hk/search?q=kowloon+walled+city+life+in+the+city+of+d arkness&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj7x7jkr5DOAhUJnJQKHQfZDOUQsAQIMQ&biw=1093&bih=522

If you need the Chinese search term: 九龍寨城

Bren McDonnall
07-26-2016, 02:46 PM
I believe I might. :)

07-29-2016, 06:12 PM
Btw, if you're interested: On Monday at 21:30 (HKT) there's a new serial on TVB Jade called "Fist(s) within Walls", aka, "Walled City of Kowloon".

Episodes are posted to the TVB website about day after they're aired. Not sure there'll be English subs, but the visuals might help...?

ETA: Added the series' direct link; there are 2 episodes up.


08-04-2016, 03:40 AM
If you're talking unsavory/criminal happenings in Hong Kong at that time, you might want to take a look at what was going on in Shanghai with the Green Gang -- and especially the head of it, "Big-Eared Du" (i.e. Du Yuesheng) -- for inspiration.