Chungking Mansions then and now

Even 21 Years Later, This Building Is Still the Real Star of Chungking Express

Two years ago, Frances Cheong, a lecturer on genome sciences at the University of Washington, showed me two photos of Chungking Mansions, a Hong Kong high-rise featured in Wong Kar-Wai’s 1994 classic Chungking Express. One photo was taken in 2007, and the other in 2012. In the first image, the building looks like it did in the movie: a hive of human activity, time-worn, time-warm—a place managed by property owners who evidently wanted to keep the costs of maintenance to a minimum. In the next image, the building is clean, shiny, and new-like. Cheong explained to me that the appearance of the place, which is very busy and packed with a variety of small businesses, was improved because the movie made it a popular tourist destination.

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