Kowloon Walled City was a remarkable urban enclave that existed in Hong Kong from the late 19th century until its demolition in the 1990s. Despite being a relatively small area, the city was packed with tens of thousands of people, making it one of the most densely populated places on earth. The history of Kowloon Walled City is a fascinating story that is worth exploring.
The origins of Kowloon Walled City can be traced back to the early 19th century, when the Qing Dynasty established a military outpost in the area to protect against potential British incursions. The city gradually grew over the years, with refugees from the Chinese mainland settling in the area in the aftermath of various conflicts.
The city remained under Chinese control until the late 19th century, when the British acquired the New Territories on a 99-year lease. However, Kowloon Walled City was excluded from this agreement, as the Chinese authorities argued that it fell under their jurisdiction. This created a legal gray area, with the city effectively becoming a lawless zone.
In the early 20th century, Kowloon Walled City began to attract various businesses and industries, including opium dens, brothels, and gambling houses. The city was notorious for its vice and criminality, with many of its inhabitants involved in illegal activities. However, it was also home to a thriving community of artisans and tradespeople who provided goods and services to the wider population.
During World War II, the Japanese occupied Hong Kong, and Kowloon Walled City became a hub for black market trading. After the war, the city returned to Chinese control, but it continued operating outside the law. Over the years, various attempts were made to bring the city under government control, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Kowloon Walled City became a focus of international attention. The city’s cramped and unsanitary conditions, combined with its reputation for crime, made it a symbol of the worst aspects of urban life. However, it also had its defenders, who argued that it was a unique and vibrant community that should be preserved.
In the end, the decision was made to demolish Kowloon Walled City, and in 1993, the government began a phased evacuation of the city’s inhabitants. The demolition process was completed in 1994, and the site was turned into a park.
Today, little remains of Kowloon Walled City except for a few artefacts and photographs. However, its legacy lives on, as a symbol of the challenges and opportunities of urban life. The city was a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its inhabitants, who created a community in the most difficult of circumstances. While its history is complex and at times troubling, it is a story that is worth remembering.
For those who may find themselves visiting Hong Kong, the Kowloon Walled City Park is one of the more interesting places in the city to visit. Not only is it a stunning and lovely park, but its connection to the past and the past of the city make it a popular destination to visit. It is hard to imagine the towering and interconnected high-rises that used to fill this area and the tens of thousands that called the Walled City home.
Address. Tung Tsing Road, Kowloon City, Kowloon.