City Snake

The Central-Mid Levels Escalator seen from above

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Two Stories Over Tokyo

Shinjuku Ginza Tokyo defines concrete jungle: over 2,000 square kilometers of closely-packed, largely monochrome buildings set amid a tangle of clogged, winding roads, elevated highways, rail lines, and telephone wires. For many who are lost amid the ceaseless forward march of its sidewalks and churning perambulations in the corridors of its vast train stations, cafes […]

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Hong Kong Rooftops: Just Another Tower

There’s nothing particularly special about this building. Built in the 1970s, it’s a highrise like any other, with a handful of small flats on each floor. None of the apartments have balconies; there is no club house or swimming pool; the only bit of shared space, beyond the dimly-lit concrete corridors, is the rooftop, which […]

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Hong Kong Rooftops: Peng Chau

Here on Peng Chau, thirty-five minutes by ferry from Central, the city is but a distant memory, a row of skyscrapers on the horizon. I make my way through sleepy streets to the tallest building on the island, a seven-storey apartment block. It has no guards and no doors to prevent entry to its upper […]

Hong Kong Rooftops: Fotan

Wah Luen is the cheapest building in Fotan, an out-of-the-way industrial district near Shatin. Since the early 2000s, it has become the epicentre of an artists’ colony populated largely by graduates of the nearby Chinese University. About 100 artists live and work in the area, most of them in high-ceilinged studios in the Wah Luen […]

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Hong Kong Rooftops: Condemned

Forty years might not even be close to a lifetime for most people, but in Hong Kong, it’s enough to witness the birth and death of a neighbourhood. In the mid-1960s, when Cheung Cheuk-kuen and his wife, Cheung Tsui-lin, moved into a flat on the top floor of a building in Kwun Tong, it was […]

Hong Kong Rooftops: Shek Kip Mei

Eddie Lui looks out from atop the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, leaning on a cane, contemplating the scene before him. He waves his hand out towards the old housing estates of Shek Kip Mei, their pale yellow paint dulled by the grey skies and damp air. “This is a space where you can really […]

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Hong Kong Rooftops: Russell Street

The tong lau on Russell Street, across from Times Square, is not in the best shape. Walking upstairs from the street, I pass a bookstore and a hair salon; after the third floor, the shops give way to apartments and the stairwell becomes filled with rubbish, its tiles stained by years of grime. By the […]

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Wan Chai in 1966

Hong Kong’s vertical urbanity was already taking shape by the mid-1960s, but as this 1966 aerial photo of Wan Chai shows, it still retained a bit of its earlier Southeast Asian character with rows of pitched-roof shophouses. The older parts of Guangzhou, Macau, Taipei and Bangkok still look like this today.

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Tracing London’s Taxis

To earn their hackney license, London’s taxi drivers must all famously master “The Knowledge,” a vast compilation of raw data about the best routes through the city’s streets. The memorization process takes an average of 34 months to study — and 12 attempts to pass. That means it’s a safe bet few licensed London cabbies […]

Posted in: Europe, Maps, Transportation, Video by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Tracing London’s Taxis , , , ,

New Home, New Roof

Last October I moved to a new apartment — and with a new apartment comes to a new roof to explore. Unfortunately, my new building’s rooftop is far from spacious, with just two narrow platforms accessible through the fire stairs. Ladders lead up to two higher platforms, one atop the elevator shaft and another on […]

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My Old Rooftop

Before I moved from the Flower Market to Homantin last year, I went up to my building’s rooftop for a few last photos of the view, which gave out onto the towers of Mongkok on one side and the mountains north of Kowloon on the other.

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Unbuilt Cities

Satellite views of California City (above) and Lehigh Acres (below) from Google Maps The world is filled with mad dreams only partly come to life. In Eastern Europe, half-built skyscrapers that neither communist governments nor their free market-friendly successors could complete form ironic landmarks, totems of ideological overconfidence. In China’s Inner Mongolia province, authorities built […]

Rooftop Voyeur

On the roof of Mirador Mansions, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

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