In other words, Hong Kong has barely left its youth on a city age scale. It was an infant prodigy at the turn of the twentieth century. The city is still not 170 years old, having grown from a small isolated military-cum-trading post on the north side of an inhospitable island just 2 km off the coast of China where evidence suggests more than six millennia of settlement. It is a central place in a vast Asian region that consists of both mainland and islands, and has been dominated by Chinese culture for many centuries. While it is recognized that the area of Hong Kong SAR has a long pre-colonial history, this will feature only occasionally here as our focus is on urban growth and form. Under most of the period of British colonial rule, it grew massively in population but modestly in area. Only once during those 156 years did it lose significant population, and that was during World War II under Japanese occupation. Immigrants have been mainly Chinese, and the place’s rapid growth was in part due to its ‘pull’ as a centre of trade. But it also had much to do with the ‘push’ from various political upheavals in the region that saw hundreds of thousands of refugees from China and elsewhere pour into the Colony, at times in flood-like proportions. The first major civil unrest in China that propelled people to Hong Kong was soon after foundation: that was associated with the 1850-1861 Tai Ping Rebellion. Within less than twenty years, there were over 100,000 people in Hong Kong, and over a quarter of a million before the end of the nineteenth century. This growth compares with or outstrips that experienced by several cities of Victorian Britain during their most frantic years of industrialization. Thus, the city was quick to become sufficiently populous to ensure a measure of self-sustaining growth. But this growth was relatively minor compared to that experienced from the middle of the twentieth century: few places in the whole history of cities can match Hong Kong’s expansion during the years following Japanese occupation and in the years surrounding China’s communist revolution: from 1945 to 1951, the population grew by 210 per cent, from 0.65 million to 2.02 million, after which the city continued to grow by between one-half and one million people per five year period until the mid-1960s (Lo, 1992). Only in the early years of the twentyfirst century do we see this scale of growth matched in the massive rural to urban migration now underway in China.