You might be forgiven if you haven’t heard of “Kowloon Walled City”, also known as “Kowloon Fort”. After all, it was knocked down more than 20 years ago. But despite that, the history behind it is quite interesting. Sometimes, it’s surprising to see the repercussions of a little neglected thought…
When the English took Hong Kong and Kowloon in the 19th century, the Chinese kept a small fortress. This area remained Chinese territory. In the 1950s the British Colonial government tried to “conquer” it, not a particularly difficult task as it was surrounded by British space and tiny.
However, the public reaction in Mainland China lead to looting of the British embassy in Guangzhou. So, in the end, the area of the Kowloon Walled City became a “no-country” land. Officially it was China, but China didn’t care. And Hong Kong wouldn’t send anything in there, be it policemen, water or electricity – nothing!
Despite the lack of infrastructure, Kowloon Walled City became a packed district of up to 30 000 people who “resided” in what we would call a slum today. It was a city within a city with “illegal” dentists (from Mainland China who didn’t have the right to practice in Hong Kong) or doctors.
Kowloon Walled City also produced the majority of all the fish balls being sold in Hong Kong – some say up to 80%.
It surprises me to this day that the building didn’t collapse. There was no fundament, all buildings were just built on each other without any plans. If there had been any attempt to anarchy in recent history – Kowloon Walled City was certainly the closest.
In the 1980s, with just a few years to go until Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese, the government knocked it all down and built a park. You can also find a small exhibition that tells you about the life in Kowloon walled city. And the park is pretty nice as well. Just don’t go in summer as it’s unbearably hot.