Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

While I’m not currently in Hong Kong (though I’m from both HK and DC), I thought Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour was a great example of a highly distinct and influential body of water. Just as the polder characterises much of the Dutch landscape, the harbour characterises much of Hong Kong’s landscape. Hong Kong consists of many islands. The two “main” islands––Hong Kong Island and Kowloon––are separated geographically, by Victoria Harbour. In Hong Kong, the harbour is a visual dividing line between the (HK) Island side and the Kowloon side. You can cross over the harbour underground by MTR (subway train) and tunnels, overhead by bridge, or across the water by ferry. While Hong Kong possesses this distinct body of water that runs from the South China Sea, the city is eclectic, in that it is also largely comprised of mountains, and varies in terms of urban, suburban and rural landscape––city, beach, mountain, peninsula, etc.––depending on where on the island, or on which island, you are. The area surrounding the harbour, however, is urban city––due to the beautiful skyline the view presents.
As Hong Kong is a very infrastructural city, the harbour has shrunk over the years, as reclaimed land has been added to continue architecture and construction. This notion of reclaiming land and humanly intervening, or “artificially controlling” a water way, is like the Dutch polder––in which a dike has been placed to control the level of the water within, from the water without. Both examples of the harbour and polder are natural geographic features that have been tampered with or built around by humans, to create distinct cultural geographic significance

3 thoughts on “Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

  1. Thanks for your response. I have never been to Hong Kong, but feel i’ve learned about the structure of the city and the importance of Victoria Harbor. I agree with Drew Morris’s response above, because i was also intrigued at your comparison of human intervention between the polder and Victoria Harbor. The concept of artificially controlling the water ways was something i hadn’t learned about until reading the assigned work, and you made a great reference above.


  2. Your map is very detailed and precise! Also, though I’ve never seen Victoria Harbour before, I looked up an image and can see why you considered it so significant to the city: its low, rounded architecture renders it distinct from the pointed skyscrapers that populate much of the rest of Hong Kong. It’s sad to see that parts of it have been reclaimed by the endless ventures of the city, but with the various other methods of moving from Hong Kong to Kowloon, I can see the justification for shrinking it. In a way, the Harbour reminds me of the meadows of Amsterdam which were eventually transformed to lakes. In its early phases, Victoria Harbour was critical for transportation in and out of Hong Kong Island, just as the meadows were integral to Amsterdam’s design and economy. Yet, over time, the economic and environmental demands of both cities required adaptation; as a result, the meadows were transformed into lakes to regulate water and temperature within the city, and the Harbour turns over much of its natural land to urban planning and new construction. Economists call this idea “creative destruction,” but historians, as well as those who recognize the beauty of the meadows and the Harbour, would do well to remember their unique impact on the cities and the people around them.


  3. First, this is a great depiction, you have great map making skills! I have never been to Hong Kong, nor examined the geography and water bodies, so this was interesting to read about. It’s really interesting how you were able to compare the concept of human intervention between the polder and Victoria Harbor. It’s interesting how we have ourselves responsible for preserving some aspects of geography, and the best way to do that is to actually intervene. Victoria Harbor seemed similar in usage to the Missouri River, which I wrote about, in that both have been used for trade and travel often. Hong Kong has a lot of action happening there right now, so I think it’d be interesting to read about if/how the Harbor is impacting the protests happening there now!


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