10 pre-war tenement buildings along Shanghai Street have been revitalized by the Urban Renewal Authority and is now called 618 Shanghai. Once home to bicycle and tobacco shops, the $200 million restoration took 11 years to complete and they re-opened in late 2019. Historians note this part of town used to be near the waterfront back in the 1920s, and boat residents would frequent these shops for supplies.
A nostalgic corner on the 3rd floor displays everyday school items from the past.
Shanghai Street is known for its variety of interesting shops. Once located along the coast until the mid-19th century, it was a major thoroughfare that ran parallel to Nathan Road from Prince Edward to Jordan.
The government wanted to name Kowloon's major streets after Chinese cities, and this one was named after the most prosperous one. In the 1970s and 80s, goldsmiths and jewellery shops favoured the area to target the boat-dwellers that lived in the nearby Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter. At the time, residents bought gold instead of putting their savings into unreliable banks.
Reclamation took its toll on their businesses, and by the 90s, nightclubs arrived in the area and this became a red light district.
Today's Shanghai Street has many kitchen ware and other non-chain shops. This walk begins at the southern end heading north towards Yau Ma Tei.
A worthwhile stop along the way is this small shop selling traditional desserts, which offers a good selection but you have to get there early to avoid disappointment. On the day of my visit, the shop workers were emerging from a long weekend so most of their selection was not available.
Continuing north from Public Square Street ...