Transcript

City of anarchy

City of anarchy Kowloon Walled City, located not far from the former Kai Tak Airport, was a remarkable high-rise squatter camp that by the 1980s had 50,000 residents. A historical accident of colonial Hong Kong, it existed in a lawless vacuum until it became an embarrassment for Britain. This month marks the 20th anniversary of its demolition. Kowloon Walled City Flight approach path 500 Courtyard Kai Tak Airport Kowloon Buildings built into 2.7 hecares O Kms 2 Without municipal services, there was no rubbish collection. Old television sets, broken furniture, discarded mattresses and other bulky items were hauled to the roof and abandoned Hong Kong Island Other rooftops were used for exercise, playgrounds, relaxing and even pigeon racing Planes needed to turn 45 degrees to land at Kai Tak Buildings were no more than 14 floors high to avoid collisions 213m 126m There were 77 wells inside the city some 90 metres deep. Electric pumps delivered water to big tanks on rooftops, From there, water was funnelled through narrow pipes to the homes 40sq ft per person The area's intercon- nected high-rise towers were built without architects and engineers, and ungoverned by Hong Kong's building and sanitation regulations HK$35 monthly room rent There were several schools and kindergartens, some of them run by organisations such as the Salvation Army Despite its daunting. squalid appearance and reputation for lawless- ness, many of Kowloon Walled City's former residents remember it fondly. It may have been the City of Darkness to outsiders, but to thousands who called it home, it was a friendly. tight-knit community that was poor but generally happy Tiny metal fabrication shops made up a good number of the 700 or so industrial premises. Most were found between the ground and fifth floors Electric wires were placed outdoors to prevent fires There were many heroin dealers but they were untouchable. Police could only arrest non-residents .OWLOON ***** CITY HONG KONG Population density per square kilometre Mong Kok Hong Kong 130,000 KWC 1,920,000 6,700 The street-level shops were a mix of unlicensed dentists and doctors. market stalls and cafes that often included dog on the menu. Fish balls, barbecued and roast meat and other foodstuffs were manufactured in premises with little or no sanitation Residents carried umbrellas to shield themselves from constantly dripping water pipes above the narrow alleys Authorities installed eight freshwater standpipes - one inside the city, and the others outside its perimeter Brothels and gambling dens operated with impunity From fortress to park The Walled City underwent a dramatic transformation in the final decades of the 20th century 1980 Fresh start In March 1993, the settlement was demolished and a park that looked like a typical Chinese garden was built in its place. But it kept a few original elements from the Walled City, such as old cannons and remnants of the South Gate and its entrance plaques 1898 1940 1950 1973 1990 Each point is an inhabitant 700 inhabitants 2,000 inhabitants 5,000 inhabitants 10,000 inhabitants 30,000 inhabitants 50,000 inhabitants Walled fortress Uncontrolled building begins During the second world war, the Japanese army razed the walls for materials to expand Kai Tak Airport Barracks Sources: The Darkness City: Life in Kowloon Walled City - Greg Girard and lan Lambot, Leisure and Cultural Services Department SCMP Graphic: Adoito Arranz

City of anarchy

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Kowloon Walled City was a remarkable high-rise squatter camp that by the 1980s had 50,000 residents. Have a look to this bizarre city

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