Kai Tak Airport, the erstwhile neighbour of generations of Hong Kongers, was found in the heart of Kowloon, with flight paths traversing across Kowloon Peninsula and the east of Victoria Harbour. In a great many districts — Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi, Kwai Chung, Mei Foo, Cheung Sha Wan, Shum Shui Po, Prince Edward, Mong Kok, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon Tong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon City, Ma Tau Wai, To Kwa Wan, Lok Fu, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Bay, Ngau Tau Kok, Kwun Tong, Lam Tin, Yau Tong, Shau Kei Wan, Chai Wan, etc. — residents were used to live their days with the airport and the overhead aeroplanes. So hatched a bizarre living environment that found no parallel in the world and in history, and likely in the time to come.

One grasps the changes of Hong Kong in the changes of Kai Tak: when the land-scarce city bulked up through relentless reclamations, the airport experienced remarkable transformation in over 70 years from its birth in the 1920s to its retirement in 1998. At the very beginning the Kai Tak site was a strip of land surrounded by natural waters, which sustained the villagers of Kowloon City. After the airport was built, the environs changed in succession: farmlands, walled villages, small towns, squatter settlements, public estates, industrial districts, modern industrial and logistic areas and, until recently, middle-class luxurious residential buildings. It came as a rare bird worldwide, being an international airport situated right at the congested city centre. What had been amazing was that the construction and extension of Kai Tak set in motion a serial process of reclamation that spanned over 70 years, which largely dictated the development of its neighbourhood.

The “Farewell Kai Tak” fad in 1998 had no doubt familiarized most Hong Kongers with the spectacular “Kai Tak Aeroplanes Salon Photos”. These pictures are manifestly a collective record of Hong Kong’s aviation development, but it must not be overlooked that they have, as well, captured the living images of the society outside of the airport and showed us how the lives of generations of Kai Tak neighbors changed over time.

The photo gallery showcases communities adjacent to Kai Tak - Kowloon City, Kowloon Tong , Ho Man Tin, Ma Tau Wai , To Kwa Wan, Lok Fu, Diamond Hill , Kowloon Bay, Ngau Tau Kok and Kwun Tong, for readers to trace from the aerial view the various facets of Kai Tak over the past years, and their former homes in the midst of the changes in Hong Kong.