Lee Tung Street
|Lee Tung Street|
View of the boarded up Lee Tung Street
|Wedding Card Street|
|Literal meaning||joyous posters street|
Lee Tung Street, known as the Wedding Card Street by locals, is located at Wan Chai, Hong Kong. It was torn down in December 2007 as part of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA) project. The demolition was seen by many as causing irreparable harm to the cultural heritage of Hong Kong.
All interests of this street were resumed by and reverted to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since 1 November 2005.
The street has long been famous for its printing industry, and Wan Chai was a longtime host of the headquarters of the Hong Kong Times, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Pao. In the 1950s, print shops began to gather in Lee Tung Street between Johnston Road and Queen's Road East. Rumours had it that the government of Hong Kong mandated this in order to easily monitor illegal publication.
In 1970s, the print shops also began producing wedding invitations, lai see, fai chun, and other items, for which they became famous in the 1980s. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people visited the shops there to order their wedding cards, name cards, and traditional Chinese calendars.
In 2003, the Urban Renewal Authority announced it would spend HK$3.58 billion to redevelop Lee Tung Street and McGregor Street, an area covering 8,900 square metres (96,000 sq ft). According to an authority spokesman, up to the end of June 2005, more than 85 percent of the 647 affected homeowners on Lee Tung Street had agreed to accept compensation offers of HK$4,079 per square foot. The purchase of the land was expected to be completed early 2006. The street was duly demolished starting in December 2007. In its place will stand four high-rise buildings and one underground car park, and new shops fitting in with the proposed image of the street as a “Wedding City”. That means the old shops there, which were mostly small businesses and family run, had to move elsewhere to continue operating, facing high rent and losing old customers. In the meantime, the commodification process of Hong Kong is carried on.
On behalf of the H15 Concern Group, architect Christopher Law produced a counter-proposal known as the "Dumbbell Proposal" which would have preserved the signature six-storey tong lau in the middle part of the street. However, despite the proposal and strong protests by residents (including a three-day hunger strike by 60-year-old shop owner May Je) and other activists, the URA and the government went on to demolish the street as planned.
Reopening and renaming
In June 2013, the Urban Renewal Authority began accepting applications for new commercial tenants on the street, and formally announced the new name "Avenue Lane" (囍歡里). The Chinese name was a pun on the phrase "I Like You". This pun resulted in widespread derision. Lyricist Wyman Wong was among the critics; in a parody of the lyrics of a Joey Yung song he had written earlier, he stated that the name made him feel miserable and cry (『囍歡里』讓我下沉，『囍歡里』讓我哭). Some internet users extended the pun in an obscene direction by suggesting the opening of a lou mei restaurant in the street called "Avenue Lane Lou Mei Shop" (囍歡里鹵味店); lou mei is a widely known Cantonese minced oath used in maternal insults, making the name roughly equivalent to "I Like Yo Momma".
- Lee, Leo Ou-fan (2008). City Between Worlds, My Hong Kong. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 94.
- Chau, Winnie. "Our Town". HK Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "囍歡里成網民取笑對象". Ming Pao. 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- "囍歡里鹵味店". The House News. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
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- 《灣仔街紙》－市區重建策略檢討公民參與文件 | Wan Chai 'Street post' – Urban regeneration strategy public consultation paper (via Project SEE)