Skyline Blog

About Skyscrapers

Archive for July, 2009

Hong Kong Skyline (香港) – World’s Greatest Skyline

Posted by Jae on July 31, 2009

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is a largely self-governing territory of the People’s Republic of China, facing Shenzhen to the north and the South China Sea to the east, west and south. Hong Kong is a global metropolitan and international financial center, and has a highly developed capitalist economy.  Beginning as a trading port, Hong Kong became a crown colony of the United Kingdom in 1842, reclassified as a British dependent territory in 1983, and remained so until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. Under the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree  of autonomy in all areas with the exception of foreign affairs and defense, which are the responsibility of the PRC Government. As part of this arrangement, Hong Kong continues to maintain its own currency, legal system, political system, immigration control, rule of the road and other aspects that concern its way of life, many of which are distinct from those of mainland China. Renowned for its expansive skyline and natural setting, its identity as a cosmopolitan center where the East meets the West is reflected in its cuisine, cinema, music and traditions. The city’s population is 95% Chinese (speaking almost exclusively Cantonese but English is a second official language with Mandarin being the most prominent “unofficial” language) and with a population of 7 million people but land area of 1,108 km2, creates one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centers. Its highly capitalist economy has been ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years! The currency used in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar.  The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it must import most of its food and raw materials. Hong Kong is the world’s eleventh largest trading entity (this is when the single city is compared to countries around the world), with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. Much of Hong Kong’s exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Currently, Hong Kong’s economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP, while industry now constitutes just 9%. Hong Kong’s largest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a highly developed transportation network with over 90% of daily travels are on public transport, making it the highest percentage in the world. A tramway system, serving the city since 1904, covers the northern parts of Hong Kong Island and is the only tram system in the world run exclusively with double deckers. The Star Ferry service operates four lines across Victoria Harbor and has been in operation for over 120 years, providing a panoramic view of Hong Kong’s skyline. It is considered one of the city’s most treasured cultural icons and has been rated as one of the most picturesque ferry crossings in the world. Hong Kong’s steep, hilly terrain calls for some unusual ways of getting up and down the slopes. The Peak Tram, the first public transport system in Hong Kong, has provided vertical rail transport between Central and Victoria Peak since 1888 by steeply ascending the side of a mountain. In Central and Western district, there is an extensive system of escalators and moving pavements, including the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, the Mid-Levels escalator. Hong Kong Harbor is one of the largest and buisest ports in the world (only rivaled by nearby Singapore, Mainland China’s greatest city Shanghai, and Incheon- a suburb of Seoul.)  Hong Kong International Airport is a leading air passenger gateway and logistics hub in Asia (consistently ranked as one of the greatest airports in the world with Singapore International and Incheon-Seoul International) and one of the world’s busiest airports in terms of international passenger and cargo movement.  Overall, Hong Kong was ranked as the 5th greatest city on earth!

Daytime Skyline

Daytime Skyline

Hong Kong has six completed skyscrapers taller than 300 m, (while Chicago has five and Dubai and New York City both have four.)  Hong Kong has a whopping 43 buildings over 200 m tall (2nd most, behind New York City’s 50), 30 of which were built in the year 2000 or later! Hong Kong has a known amount of 228 buildings with known height figures greater than 150 m, the tallest of which is the 415 m 2 International Financial Centre, my favorite modern skyscraper in the world! [There are a great number of completed buildings ranging from 50 to 63 stories tall that do not have exact height figures given by the owners of the building nor emporis.com. It is possible but not definite that some of these skyscrapers are taller than 150 m; thus, it can only be stated that there are at least 228 buildings that are at least 150 m high which is greater than any city on earth! Chicago has 91 and New York City has 192.  Most speculate that Hong Kong’s number of true skyscrapers (continuously habitable buildings of at least 150 m in height) is well over 300.]  By the end of 2008, Hong Kong had the most completed high-rise buildings in the world with 7627 (practically equally New York City, Chicago, and Shanghai combined!!!)

Contrary to common belief, Hong Kong’s skyline shows a large selection of distinct sky-reaching towers, rather than block-style apartments (most of the South American “skylines” are just a large quantity of short blocks.)  Every night, many skyscrapers on both sides of Victoria Harbor light up in a synchronized show called A Symphony of Lights, named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest permanent light and sound festival in the world (this show is coupled with amazing fireworks that seem to blow up within the skyscrapers on holidays, the best being Christmas, Western New Year (Solar Calendar), and the Chinese New Year (Lunar Calendar!)  I would consider my life complete after I view the Hong Kong New Year Show.)

The high density and tall skyline of Hong Kong’s urban area is due to a lack of available space, with the average distance from the harbor front to the steep hills of Hong Kong Island at 1.3 km. This lack of space causing demand for dense, high-rise offices and housing, has resulted in 36 of the world’s 100 tallest residential buildings being in Hong Kong, and more people living or working above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth, making it the world’s most vertical city!

As of June 2008, there are 288 high-rises under construction (including Hong Kong’s new king the 484 m International Commerce Centre– probably will be the world’s third tallest skyscraper by roof height trailing the Burj Dubai and the Shanghai Tower), approved for construction, and proposed for construction in Hong Kong!  It is without a doubt that Hong Kong’s skyline is the BEST IN THE WORLD (my personal favorite) and LEADER of the “Big 4” skylines of the world, with the surrounding mountains and Victoria Harbor (and not to mention that Shenzhen’s amazing skyline is so nearby) complementing it to create the most awesome example of man and God working together!  Long live the Champion of the Skyline!!!

The World's Greatest Skyline

The World's Greatest Skyline

Advertisements

Posted in Skyline | 6 Comments »

Aerial View of Chicago

Posted by Jae on July 29, 2009

Chicago

Chicago

Posted in Skyline | 4 Comments »