Things to do in Hong Kong
Hong Kong along with other well developed Asian cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore, are known as some of the world's safest cities to live in. However, can you imagine in as little as 50 years ago, there was a place in Hong Kong that was notorious for its inhabitants’ debauched lifestyle and high crime rate, which is known as the Kowloon Walled City.
The Kowloon Walled City was first built as a small fort in the Song dynasty, later reconstructed and improved by the Qing government as a Chinese military fort. Since then, the area has become an enclave in Hong Kong. Throughout the 20th Century, there was an influx of criminals and fugitives from mainland China, settling in the walled city and as a result, the population had rocketed. In 1990, there were nearly 50,000 residents within its 2.6 hectares, in which the population density is 120 times greater than New York City. Hence, it was also once the world’s most populated area.
Due to the lack of intervention and law enforcement from the government, the walled city was controlled by local triads and as a result, the crime rate was exceptionally high. What considered against the law are taking place almost every day within the city, ranging from drug trafficking, illegal gambling, prostitution, and unlicensed dentistry.
Famed by its highly dense buildings, there was no proper construction plan which eventually led to 300 interconnected buildings crammed within the small area. Owing to this very reason, sunlight could not reach some of the lower floors of the building. Some of the flats did not even have windows, without access to sunlight and fresh air, it is hard to imagine how life was inside those buildings. On top of that, since there were no garbage collection services, the hygiene condition was nasty. For instance, it was not uncommon to see rooftops scattered with broken furniture, mattresses, and domestic appliances.
Before the 1970s, police tended to turn a blind eye to the crimes within the walls, either considering law enforcement inside was posing a peril to the frontlines, or the government was simply not actively taking the lead. It was not until the 1970s when the police started to take the place serious and combat crimes, such as the massive arrest which once captured more than 2500 people from within the walls. In 1987, the British Hong Kong government started planning for the demolition of the Kowloon Walled City, after taking control of the no-go area. The inhabitants were paid to resettle, buildings were demolished and eventually replaced with a park in 1995.
To date, the Kowloon Walled City has been replaced by a park, providing locals and tourists a place for leisure activities, or to explore the dark history of the city.
Kowloon Walled City Park
Address:Tung Tsing Road, Kowloon City, Kowloon
Opening hours: 6:30 am to 11:00 pm
Exhibitions room: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Closed every Wednesday)
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