Kowloon Walled City
A bit of history
Though the British claimed ownership of the Walled City, they did little with it over the following few decades. The Protestant church established an old people's home in the Yamen, as well as a school and almshouse in other former offices. Aside from such institutions, however, the Walled City became a mere curiosity for British colonials and tourists to visit. In 1933, the Hong Kong authorities announced plans to demolish most of the decaying Walled City's buildings, compensating the 436 squatters that lived there with new homes. By 1940 only the Yamen, the school, and one house remained.
The original fort measured about 210 by 120 m (700 by 400 ft). The stone wall surrounding it had four entrances and measured 4 m (13 ft) tall and 4.6 m (15 ft) thick before it was dismantled in 1943. During its World War II occupation of Hong Kong, Japan demolished the City's wall and used the stone to extend the nearby Kai Tak Airport.
After Japan's surrender, China announced its intent to reclaim its rights to the Walled City. Refugees poured in to take advantage of Chinese protection, and 2,000 squatters occupied the Walled City by 1947. After a failed attempt to drive them out in 1948, the British adopted a 'hands-off' policy in most matters concerning the Walled City.
With no government enforcement from the Chinese or the British save for a few raids by the Hong Kong Police, the Walled City became a haven for crime and drugs. It was only during a 1959 trial for a murder that occurred within the Walled City that the Hong Kong government was ruled to have jurisdiction there. By this time, however, the Walled City was virtually ruled by the organized crime syndicates known as Triads.
Beginning in the 1950s, Triad groups such as the 14K and Sun Yee On gained a stranglehold on the Walled City's countless brothels, gambling parlors, and opium dens. The Walled City had become such a haven for criminals that police would venture into it only in large groups. It was not until 1973–74, when a series of more than 3,500 police raids resulted in over 2,500 arrests and over 4,000 pounds of seized drugs, that the Triads' power began to wane. With public support, particularly from younger residents, the continued raids gradually eroded drug use and violent crime. In 1983, the police commander of the Kowloon City District declared the Walled City's crime rate to be under control.
The City also underwent massive construction during the 1960s and 1970s. Eight municipal pipes provided water to the entire structure (although more could have come from wells). A few of the streets were illuminated by fluorescent lights, as sunlight rarely reached the lower levels. Although the rampant crime of earlier decades diminished in later years, the Walled City was still known for its high number of unlicensed doctors and dentists, who could operate there without threat of prosecution.
This photo shows the Walled City in 1973 when it had about 10,000 residents. The yamen can still be seen between the buildings.
In spite of its transformation from a fort into an urban enclave, the Walled City retained the same basic layout. Construction surged dramatically during the 1960s and 1970s, until the formerly low-rise City consisted almost entirely of buildings with 10 stories or more (with the notable exception of the Yamen in its center). However, due to the Kai Tak Airport's position 0.8 km (0.5 mi) south of the City, buildings did not exceed 14 stories. The two-story Sai Tau Tsuen settlement bordered the Walled City to the south and west until it was cleared in 1985 and replaced with Carpenter Road Park. In 1983 it had a population of about 35,000 which is over 1 person per square meter.
The City's dozens of alleyways were often only 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) wide, and had poor lighting and drainage. An informal network of staircases and passageways also formed on upper levels, which was so extensive that one could travel north to south through the entire City without ever touching solid ground. Construction in the City went unregulated, and most of the roughly 350 buildings were built with poor foundations and few or no utilities. Because apartments were so small—about 60% were 23 m2 (250 sq ft)—space was maximized with wider upper floors, caged balconies, and rooftop additions. Roofs in the City were full of television antennas, clotheslines, water tanks, and garbage, and could be crossed using a series of ladders.
Over time, both the British and the Chinese governments found the City to be increasingly intolerable. The quality of life in the City—sanitary conditions in particular—was far behind the rest of Hong Kong. The Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 laid the groundwork for the City's demolition. The mutual decision to tear down the Walled City was announced on 14 January 1987.
The government spent some HK$2.7 billion (US$350 million) in compensation to the estimated 33,000 residents and businesses. Some residents were not satisfied with the compensation, and were forcibly evicted between November 1991 and July 1992. After four months of planning, demolition of the Walled City began on 23 March 1993 and concluded in April 1994. Construction work on Kowloon Walled City Park started the following month. Kowloon Walled City Park opened in December 1995 and occupies the area of the former Walled City. Some historical artifacts from the Walled City, including its yamen building and remnants of its South Gate, have been preserved there.
The following view is taken from Google Earth and approximates the point of view of the photo shown further up. The new park can be seen with the same shape as the old building area while the buildings, roads, tennis courts, etc. around can be clearly identified.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6l2vzwRj5Y 九龍城寨 German Documentary