Iconic theatre turned shopping paradise
Hong Kong’s Broadway
Lee Theatre was the kind of landmark that defined the neighbourhood around it. Built in 1925 in a Beaux-Arts architecture style, it was one of the three biggest theatres in Hong Kong, with 2,000 seats and a rotating stage that could host all kinds of shows. It was so popular, the tram company ran a special late-night service to and from the theatre.
Pomp and pageantry
While the theatre originally played host to Cantonese opera, it eventually became home to the annual Miss Hong Kong pageant in the 1970s and 80s. Many of Hong Kong’s most famous Cantonese pop stars performed on the Lee Theatre’s stage, including Roman Tam, Sam Hui and Anita Mui. Before the Hong Kong Coliseum was built across the harbour, this was Hong Kong’s go-to venue for pop music.
From entertainment to shopping
As Hong Kong’s property market boomed in the 1980s, the Lee family decided to demolish the theatre and replace with a shopping mall and office tower – the Lee Theatre Plaza. The mall’s postmodern architecture pays homage to the theatre’s façade.
The theatre was built by the Lee family, which owned most of the surrounding land. The family’s patriarch, Lee Hysan, was one of Hong Kong’s first Chinese tycoons, and he made his fortune in land development and trafficking opium – which led to his assassination in 1928.