By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Cities
Stunning photos reveal what life was like in Kowloon Walled City, an urban society without law, order or even infrastructure.
For residents of Kowloon Walled City, life was anarchy.
As many as 50,000 residents, many of which were squaters, were crammed into the 6-acre settlement that once served as a Chinese military outpost. And while the British claimed jurisdiction of the town in Hong Kong after a handover in 1898, the city was largely left alone.
Without health regulations or law enforcement, the community, which comprised of 350 densely packed high-rise buildings, served as a refuge for drug dealers, criminals and gangs. In time, the virtual absence of government oversight lead to a society ruled by powerful mafiosos known as Triads.
By the 1950's, the city became an epicenter for triad-controlled brothels, casinos, and opium dens. Even the neighborhood doctors and dentists were shady, with many unlicensed practictioners choosing to set up shop locally so that they could operate without fear of prosecution. If the police ever did venture inside, it was only in large heavily armed groups.
Still, reports and testimonials indicate that generally the locals lived peacefully. Photos published in the book "City of Darkness," which chronicled life within the city, showed children playing on rooftops not too far away from adults taking in the fresh air high above the constant buzz of illegal activity. In fact, the city's rooftops actually served as an important gathering place, enabling nieghbors to bond and help one another endure the miserable conditions.
That's because even from such a remote viewpoint, the squaler was unavoidable. Dwellings were built entirely without the help of architects and many apartments were so small (about 250 squre feet) that garbage, TVs, water tanks were stored on rooftops. The lack of building codes and regulations also meant homes had poor foundations and few or no utilities. Outside, the network of staircases and passageways on the upper levels was so extensive that pedestrians can cross the entire city without ever touching solid ground.
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Conditions improved in the 60s and 70's when a police crackdown led to over 2,500 arrests and the confiscation of over 4,000 pounds of drugs. Charities, religious societies, and other welfare groups were gradually introduced and the Hong Kong government began to provide water supply and mail services.
Despite these efforts, Hong Kong officials decided in 1987 to demonish the city, athough many residents resisted the forced evictions.
However, by April 1994, Kowloon Walled City was no more.
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May 14, 2012
an amusing mistake ! Despite these efforts, Hong Kong officials decided in 1987 to demonish [sic!!!] the city, athough many residents resisted the forced evictions. demonise ?
Looks like a peak into the global future populations - where we're headed as long as the food (fertilizer/NPK) holds out.
As a libertarian, I like the approach Mr. Nguyen took in writing this article. He describes how most of mankind likes to live in peace and solve their problems ingeniously even under the most horrible conditions. What was missing was a limited government to enforce contracts, protect property rights, and punish those who used force, deception or fraud against others. I very much enjoyed reading this article. B.
No editor? "As many as 50,000 residents, [s]many of which[/s] [b]several who[/b] were squaters [sic], were crammed into the 6-acre settlement that once served as a Chinese military outpost." "In fact, the city's rooftops actually served as an important gathering place, enabling nieghbors [sic] to bond and help one another endure the miserable conditions." "That's because even from such a remote viewpoint, the squaler [sic] was unavoidable. Dwellings were built entirely without the help of architects and many apartments were so small (about 250 squre [sic] feet) that garbage, TVs, [b]and[/b] water tanks were stored on rooftops." "Conditions improved in the 60s and 70's [sic] when a police crackdown led to over 2,500 arrests and the confiscation of over 4,000 pounds of drugs."
I kind of want to move there myself. The reliable corruption yet social freedom of living under the Chinese criminal gangs would in some ways be preferable to the arbitrary justice/regulation/taxation being practiced by modern governments.
Absolutely fascinating. From Wikipedia: "It was a very complex place, difficult to generalise about, a place that seemed frightening but where most people continued to lead normal lives. A place just like the rest of Hong Kong. ???Leung Ping Kwan, City of Darkness, p. 120 Over time, both the British and the Chinese governments found the City to be increasingly intolerable, despite the low reported crime rate. The quality of life in the City???sanitary conditions in particular???was far behind the rest of Hong Kong.
as he / she / it has no life other than to go on and on and on showing everyone else's errors to make himself / herself / itself look intelligent. Time to give it a rest GP as this angle is now old and dead. Remember that an intelligent mind is a flexible mind. I also found the article interesting. Maybe not perfectly polished but interesting. Tuan may not have a full grasp of English but I'm sure that it will improve. Maybe he was tap typing on an iPAD. LOL. This is not a technical topic with facts and figures so some small mistakes are forgiven.
I had no problem understanding the author's intent. Sometimes correcting another's errors are just being rude.
Why bother with language, when we can just make up whatever we want. All those years of English -- what a waste of time. Math too. 2+2 = 7, because I said so. The internet is full of average people.