Ocean Terminal: first US-style mall in Hong Kong, and first in world integrated with a pier

The arrival of the liner Canberra in spring 1966 was cue for the opening of the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourside development; as well as the shops, its free parking was popular with Star Ferry commuters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 7:00pm

Harbour City and Ocean Terminal are names often used interchangeably, because the Tsim Sha Tsui retail complex is a confusing set-up.

Today, the interconnected warren of shopping malls and arcades that form the “greater Harbour City” development also includes Ocean Centre, floors of the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel and the Gateway, with a bridge to Star House.

Shopping revolution: the 50 years since Hong Kong’s first mall, Ocean Terminal, opened

The development began life in March 1966 with the opening of Ocean Terminal – the world’s first marine pier integrated with a shopping centre, and Asia’s first US-style shopping mall.

It was timed to coincide with the arrival of the luxury P&O cruise liner Canberra. The 45,000-ton ship, which had previously been unable to dock in Hong Kong, was in port for three days during a Pacific cruise. The vessel, and its destination, caused huge excitement locally.

“Anxious crowds had gathered at the railings on the western side of the Tsimshatsui concourse long before the terminal was opened,” the Post reported.

“Other people passing by stopped to look at the beautiful design of the entrance and the forecourt, in which there is a fountain.”

Cruise passengers and local residents flooded into Ocean Terminal on opening day, though retailers reported a mixed response from shoppers.

“A jewellery shop said last night that it had done ‘good business’, although it would not disclose the amount. But a curio and furniture shop said it had received a lot of enquiries from visitors, but little business.”

A large bar and restaurant overlooking Victoria Harbour, another first for the city, was also well received. One staff member told the Post he had been attending to customers non-stop all day.

Ocean Terminal, situated besides Kowloon’s Star Ferry pier, had another attraction for locals: two floors of car parking space. It opened six years before the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, which was completed in 1972, so was convenient for Kowloon motorists taking the ferry to work on Hong Kong Island. The car park was three-quarters full with about 700 vehicles on its first day, the Post reported.