Covering the north-west of Hong Kong Island and its CBD, the Central and Western District is one of 18 administrative regions in the city. In addition to the bustling city centre, it includes Shek Tong Tsui, Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun, as well as part of the colonial settlement within the City of Victoria.
Central is Hong Kong’s major business hub, with multinational finance corporations occupying its modern skyscrapers and the city’s political headquarters at Government Hill. The lively dining and nightlife areas of Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo are also found here, together with the iconic steel high-rise landmark of The Center. Hong Kong’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral, is among its most impressive 19th century architectural buildings, together with the English Gothic revival Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Chinese People's Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building is one of its most distinctive landmarks and housed the British garrison up until Hong Kong’s handover to the People's Republic of China in 1997. Central is linked to Mid-Levels to the west along the longest outdoor escalator system in the world, whose route is lined with countless restaurants and shopping destinations. To the east of Central sprawls Hong Kong Park where the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware occupies a magnificent colonial home, while Victoria Peak towers to the south-west, offering iconic views across Victoria Harbour.
Central and Western District is well connected by public transport along the subway system, with major stops at Hong Kong, Central, Sheung Wan and Admiralty Stations. Victoria Peak is accessed along the historic Peak Tramway which departs from Central, while numerous public bus routes ply the district’s streets and ferries link it with Tsim Sha Tsui, Lantau and Lamma Islands.
Victoria City was the first urban area to be developed in colonial Hong Kong, with offices and warehouses built during the mid 19th century on what later became known as Government Hill. It was expanded to seven districts in 1857 and remained a predominantly European area until 1860 when Chinese merchants moved in. In the following years, Central remained as the European business district while Western became a commercial hub for the Chinese.