Many people will not have heard of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, a city that started as a tiny Chinese military outpost way back in the 1800’s. After China leased Hong Kong to the British in 1898 the base became a kind of no-man’s land for a while until the Japanese razed it in WWII, after which it became a magnet to refugees.
Neither the British or the Chinese wanted to deal with the escalating refugee problem and so the area was left ungoverned. In the years that followed 300 towers would rise on the site, these towers were woven together and created a densely interconnected network of buildings. The city never had a planner or an architect, just an army of residents who wanted more housing and so built on top of one another.
While the city did have electricity it never had water and so residents would have to collect water from nearby wells. From the 1950’s to 1970’s the city was controlled by Triads which saw high levels of prostitution, gambling and drug abuse. However in 1987 the Hong Kong government announced that it wished to demolish the whole city.
Over time the British and Chinese governments found the city to be increasingly intolerable, despite the reduction in crime. In 1984 the two nations laid the groundwork for its demolition, the mutual decision was announced in 1987. After a long and difficult eviction process the government paid out $350 million in compensation to the residents of the city (estimates are between 30,000 and 50,000 residents in total). Some residents who refused to leave were moved by force between 1991 and 1992.
Finally, in 1993 the demolition of the city began and finished 13 months later, the area was then turned into Kowloon Walled City Park.
Kowloon Walled City: 20 Year Anniversary
Demolition of Kowloon…..
Kowloon City Park today…