Statue Square

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Statue of the HSBC banker, Sir Thomas Jackson, 1st Baronet, with Prince's Building in the background, in 2006.
Statue Square in the 1910s, with HSBC building (second design). The old City Hall is hidden by the Legilative Council Building.
Statue Square in the 1930s, looking south toward the HSBC building (third design, built in 1935). The canopy of Queen Victoria's statue is visible.
Statue Square in 1955. Prince's Building (first generation) and Queen's Building are visible on the right.
Statue Square, looking south toward the HSBC building.
Statue Square façade of the Legislative Council Building.
Statue Square is a rendezvous for numerous Filipino maids in Hong Kong on Sundays.

Statue Square (Chinese: 皇后像廣場; lit. "Empress' Statue Square") is a public pedestrian square in Central, Hong Kong. Built entirely on reclaimed land at the end of the 19th century, Statue Square consists of two parts separated by Chater Road into a northern and a southern sections. It is bordered by Connaught Road Central in the north and by Des Voeux Road Central in the south.

The name is a reference to the statues, mainly of British royalty, which stood on the square until the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during WWII. Today, the only statue on the square is the one of Sir Thomas Jackson, 1st Baronet, an early HSBC banker.

History[edit]

The square was built at the end of the 19th century on land reclaimed by the Praya Reclamation Scheme. The idea of a square of statues dedicated to royalty was conceived by Sir Catchick Paul Chater.[1] Initially named "Royal Square", it gradually became known as "Statue Square", a name derived from the fact that it originally contained the statue of Queen Victoria, as the square's name in Chinese testifies.[2][3] This statue was ordered to commemorate the 1887 Golden Jubilee of the monarch. It should not have been made in bronze, but in marble, an error that wasn't picked up until the bronze statue was almost completed.[1][2] It was officially unveiled at the centre of the square on 28 May 1896, the day officially appointed for the celebration of the 77th birthday of the Queen.[4]

Statues of Prince Albert and Edward VII were added before 1902.[5] A statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, 1st Baronet, the chief manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was unveiled on 24 February 1906 by the Governor Sir Matthew Nathan. At that time, the statue was facing the HSBC building.[6][7] These statues (except for the statue of Jackson), together with the two bronze lions in front of the HSBC building, were displaced to Japan to be melted by the occupying Japanese during World War II.

The Cenotaph, a replica of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London,[8] was unveiled on 24 May 1923 (Empire Day) by the Governor Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs. It was built on the northeastern section of Statue Square, facing the Hong Kong Club Building.[9] This area is now only uncommonly referred to as part of Statue Square.

After the war some of the statues were brought back to Hong Kong. Sir Thomas Jackson's now stands roughly in the middle of the square, facing the Legislative Council Building. Queen Victoria's statue was placed in Victoria Park.[2] The two HSBC lions are now again in front of the HSBC building. The bronze statue of George V, also removed by the Japanese, was lost and never replaced after the war.[2]

Since the 1980s, there has been a tradition for thousands of Filipina domestic workers to congregate in and around Statue Square every Sunday (their usual rest day of the week). A parallel tradition has since been developed in Victoria Park for Indonesian domestic servants in Hong Kong.[10]

Surrounding buildings[edit]

South

The HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building is located along the southern side of the square, across Des Voeux Road Central. The site was previously occupied by the old City Hall (built 1869, demolished 1933) and smaller earlier generations of the HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building.

East
West

Several buildings with names reminiscent of British royalty were built on the western side of the square. Prince's Building and Queen's Building were built directly along the square (southern section and northern section respectively), while the others were built further west.

North

The square was initially bordered by Victoria Harbour on its northern side, but following land reclamation, it is now separated from it by Edinburgh Place, which housed the Star Ferry pier, among others, until 2007.

The statues[edit]

Today, the only freestanding statue on the Square is the statue of Sir Thomas Jackson. Additionally, a 2.7 m high blind-folded statue of Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law, stands on top of the pediment of the Legislative Council Building,[11] and is facing the Square. The statues that have been historically on display on the square include:

In addition, statues of royalty and colonial administrators located outside of Statue Square included:

In popular culture[edit]

This location was the pit stop for leg 10 of The Amazing Race 17.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Statues of Statue Square, Hong Kong by Liz Chater, privately published 2008
  2. ^ a b c d Wordie, Jason. "The square that put an old queen in her place", The Standard, 2 May 1999
  3. ^ Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 27–33. ISBN 962-209-563-1. 
  4. ^ Bard, Solomon (2002). Voices from the past: Hong Kong, 1842–1918. Hong Kong University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-962-209-574-8. 
  5. ^ a b c Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced2003). Old Hong Kong – Volume One. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. Page 8. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-59-2
  6. ^ Bard, Solomon (2002). Voices from the past: Hong Kong, 1842–1918. Hong Kong University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-962-209-574-8. 
  7. ^ Clarke, David James (2001). Hong Kong art: culture and decolonization. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2920-6. 
  8. ^ Brief Information on Proposed Grade I Items, pp. 53–54
  9. ^ "1923 Unveiling the Cenotaph", Gwulo: Old Hong Kong website
  10. ^ Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. p. 152. ISBN 962-209-563-1. 
  11. ^ Legislative Council Website
  12. ^ a b c d e Arthur Hacker, "Statue Square: Arthur Hacker digs up the history on Hong Kong statues", CityLife
  13. ^ Liz Chater, Details of statues in Statue Square, Gwulo: Old Hong Kong website
  14. ^ Carroll, John M. Edge of empires: Chinese elites and British colonials in Hong Kong. Harvard University Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-674-01701-6. 
  15. ^ "Fame", HSBC war memorial statue [1923–1942"], Gwulo: Old Hong Kong website
  16. ^ "A Statue to Sir Arthur Kennedy in Hongkong", The Straits Times, Weekly Issue, 26 July 1883, Page 7
  17. ^ K. E. Shaw, George Gray Thomson (1973). The Straits of Malacca, in relation to the problems of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. University Education Press. p. 192. 
  18. ^ Bard, Solomon (2002). Voices from the past: Hong Kong, 1842–1918. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-962-209-574-8. 
  19. ^ The Film Services Office: Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°16′52″N 114°09′35″E / 22.28106°N 114.15974°E / 22.28106; 114.15974