Compared to its neighboring “Instagrammable” public housing estate, Nam Shan Estate, Tai Hang Tung Estate can be considered a relatively low-key presence.
As a child, I often had the misconception that Tai Hang Tung Estate was located in the Tai Hang area of Hong Kong Island, requiring a trip across the sea. It wasn’t until later that I realized that Tai Hang Tung Estate is actually in Kowloon Tong. My apologies.
From Squatter Area to Resettlement Estate to Redevelopment
The history of Tai Hang Tung Estate can be traced back to the post-World War II period when a large number of mainland Chinese refugees moved to Hong Kong and settled in the environmentally harsh squatter areas in the mountains. Tai Hang Tung was one of the resettlement areas.
As for the predecessor of Tai Hang Tung Estate, it was originally a resettlement building that appeared as early as 1955-56. The resettlement building was constructed in response to a large fire that broke out in the Tai Hang Tung squatter area in 1954, leaving over 20,000 people homeless. The Hong Kong colonial government, in order to accommodate the affected residents, followed the example of the response to the 1953 Shek Kip Mei fire and built Tai Hang Tung Estate to house the disaster victims.
It wasn’t until 1974 that the government began planning the redevelopment of Tai Hang Tung Estate, and construction began in 1979. The Tai Hang Tung Estate that we see today underwent redevelopment and began occupancy in 1984.
Nostalgic Vibes at Tai Hang Tung Estate
The first impression of Tai Hang Tung Estate is that many of its buildings are relatively short, with only around 10 floors. This is because the estate is located in Kowloon Tong, where building heights are restricted due to being under the flight path. After checking the data, it was found that the six long, connected buildings in Tai Hang Tung Estate, namely Tung Hoi House, Tung Fai House, Tung Shing House, Tung Yu House, Tung Moon House, and Tung Wong House, were the first to be completed with the least number of floors and indeed only have 11 floors.
In general, although Tai Hang Tung Estate is not as well-known as its neighboring Nam Shan Estate, it is also rich in nostalgic charm and beauty. It is common to see octagons in Tai Hang Tung Estate, perhaps due to Feng Shui or other reasons, such as in the footbridges. Even in the park’s facilities, you can still find the frequent appearance of octagons if you look closely.
Moreover, the nostalgic charm of Tai Hang Tung Estate comes from many of its features that still retain the characteristics of the 1980s. When strolling around, there is a feeling of time being sealed. For example, the landmark of Tai Hang Tung Estate, the Rainbow Restaurant, looks particularly dazzling and beautiful at night when its neon sign is on. The shops in the estate are located on the ground and pedestrian bridge levels, and many of them are small old shops with a certain history.
Another favorite spot for many is located around the clotheslines, where there are small transportation icons behind them, such as buses, trams, and trucks, all in colorful and rich colors, full of childlike fun. If only the clotheslines weren’t blocking the view, it would be a great place to take pictures.
Talking about Tai Hang Tung Estate, I once walked around at night just to admire the view of the Rainbow Restaurant (laughs). The biggest difference between day and night is that Tai Hang Tung Estate used to have few streetlights in bustling Hong Kong, giving it a somewhat eerie feeling. Looking back on it, it was also quite interesting.