Seen in Sheung Wan

Though street art is not as pervasive in Hong Kong as it is in European and North American cities, it is very common in certain neighbourhoods. Sheung Wan is one of them. In the district’s many back lanes and quiet streets, just about every spare surface is covered with a tag, stencil or poster. Last […]

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The Lingering Ghost

On a bright summer day in 1996, Kate McDonnell was wandering through an alley in the eastern Plateau when she spotted the remnants of a hand-painted tobacco ad on the wall of an old triplex. Fifteen years later, Kate ventured down the same alley and, sure enough, the ad was still there, a bit more […]

Photo of the Week: There Will Be Light

This week’s photo was taken in Shanghai by Damien Polegato. Every week, we feature striking images from our Urbanphoto group on Flickr. Want to see your photos here? Join the group.

A Short Detour in Mongkok

Mongkok might be one of the world’s most crowded places, but sometimes all you need to do to escape is to make a right turn down a quiet alleyway. That’s what I discovered when I was walking from home to the Flower Market the other day. Instead of taking the usual route along Sai Yee […]

Good Morning, Hutong

Beijing is not a good walking city. Its roads are too wide, its blocks too long — this is a city meant to be experienced on wheels, whether those of a bicycle or (increasingly) a compact sedan. But as Christopher Szabla reminded us earlier this year, “Beijing is at least two cities”: the city beyond […]

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Graffiti Alley

Street art in Hong Kong tends to be limited to specific areas and the scene is dominated by a handful of very prolific artists, like Start from Zero and Graphic Airlines, who work mainly with posters, stencil art and stickers. In a few corners of town, though, it’s possible to find clusters of exuberantly traditional […]

Swiss Lane: Still Mysterious

Last year, after returning from Montreal, I posted about a Mile End alley with a strange name that doesn’t appear anywhere in the city’s official toponymical records. Nobody has yet come forward with an answer as to how Swiss Lane got its name, but one Flickr user, DubyDub2009, did a bit of extra research and […]

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The Many Chinese Words for “Lane”

Suoyi Hutong, Beijing There’s several different names in English for small, secondary streets that run between blocks or behind major roads. Alley and lane are the words most often used in North America, but there’s significant variation in the UK, where regional words like vennel, chare, wynd, twitten and jigger are common. It’s a similar […]

The Mystery of Swiss Lane

Even after seven years of walking its streets, I’m still finding new things in Mile End, the neighbourhood I called home before I left Montreal. Back for a visit last month, I got around mostly by bike, which took me down streets on which I wouldn’t normally walk, like the quiet stretch of Casgrain in […]

Laneway Observations

Unpaved alley, central NDG Earlier this summer, Susan Semenak, a reporter for the Montreal Gazette, emailed me about a story she was doing on Montreal’s laneways. “I spent a large part of my childhood running around a grassy laneway behind 7th Ave. in LaSalle,” she wrote. “I love the other stories that laneways tell about […]

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Follow the Cat

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Don’t Hate

I first passed by this paste-up late at night in Taipei’s Ximending district. When I happened to be nearby a couple of days later, I was doubly impressed: whoever made it knew that by placing it here, it would illuminated each afternoon by a thin sliver of light, a ready-made art space in an otherwise […]

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Laneway Shops

Electrical appliance store, Causeway Bay Antique vendor, Sheung Wan Last year, I wrote a bit about the informal shops and sales that spring up in some of Montreal’s laneways — a junk emporium, a record shop, a bicycle cooperative, just to name a few in Mile End. Here in Hong Kong, where commercial rents are […]

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Smoke Break

Stanley Street between Ste. Catherine and de Maisonneuve

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