This And That: A Story About My Street
My husband and I live next to what used to be the heart of Hong Kong’s wedding industry. Affectionately known as “Wedding Card Street” for its rows of printers selling invitations, stationery and bridal accessories, Lee Tung Street was considered a cultural cornerstone of Wan Chai, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
But that all changed in 2007, when Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority approved plans for a major development that included gutting the entire road and sending its tenants elsewhere. Lee Tung Street was removed from city maps, and the project transformed the lane into a luxury outdoor shopping strip set to a constant soundtrack of Michael Buble songs from the early aughts.
Unsurprisingly, the project sparked outrage among locals and the vendors that gave the street its nickname. Though three 19th century tenement houses in the area were preserved, the area looks dramatically different, and is no longer devoted to the wedding industry like it was in decades past. Only one wedding card shop is on the street level. It’s right next to a glossy Moleskin store. There are two more wedding card shops in the below-ground mall, near a gourmet food market and Thermos shop. The developers said they would pay homage to the area’s past by keeping a certain percentage of the stores devoted to wedding planning, and while there are bakeries, jewelry stores and a few card shops, the homage feels more like a very subtle nod.
The redevelopment, which includes the apartment building where I live, is one of the most glaring examples of the gentrifying neighborhood. When I go out of my apartment building and turn left, I end up on what used to be Lee Tung Street, which is now called Lee Tung Avenue.
When I leave my apartment and turn right, the street looks like this:
Don’t be fooled though. Half the storefronts on this narrow stretch are western restaurants, including an Australian coffee shop, an Italian pasta place and a French wine bar. But there’s also a dumplings spot, a ramen restaurant and even one wedding card printer.