iSee India and China Bank

Grand bank buildings along prominent Prince Street

Financial Powerhouses

Prince Street was the city’s most prominent boulevard and home to the big financial powerhouses. In a unique and unprecedented configuration, this bank building was constructed jointly by the Imperial Bank of India and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). Even today it is still occupied by the same two banks that first built it in 1923. The HSBC side of the building was completely refurbished in 2015. But walking into the State Bank of India (successor to the Imperial Bank) side of the building is like stepping back in time; tiled floor, vaulted high ceiling, original fittings and lots of “Imperial” adornments.

Walking into the Indian side of the bank chambers is like stepping back in time.
— Fred Mendis, Historian

Nice to Know

At the time a covered street level arcade was a mandatory requirement for all buildings. The whole street would have a continuous ground floor pedestrian arcade providing shelter from rain and the sun.

Forgotten Logo

The original HSBC logo at the front entrance is worth a look. It has all the elements you’d expect from that period: a crest with the crown jewels, a lion and a unicorn, a Chinese junk but also and right there: boxes of opium… representing the lucrative but shady trade that made the Hong Kong colony rich. Over the years HSBC has carefully removed this controversial element from its corporate image, but somehow this one in Fort remained intact.

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