Kowloon Walled City was a densely populated and ungoverned area in Hong Kong.
Originally a fortress, in 1898 the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were given to Britain by China.
The population grew rapidly in Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion in the Second World War. After the Chinese Civil War, the first wave of refugees arrived. Two years later, another 2,000 came. In January 1950, a fire destroyed 2,500 huts that housed around 3,500 families. The accident highlighted the dangers and inadequacy of the area.
The fire gave the opportunity to build new constructions. Placed outside of government control, the city became an ideal breeding ground for crime and the drug market. Only in 1959, following a murder, it was decided that the Hong Kong government had jurisdiction over the settlement.
During the fifties, the city was under the control of the triads such as 14k and Sun Yee On which controlled numerous brothels, gaming parlors, and opium dens.
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Only between 1973 and 1974, following a series of police raids, the power of the triads begin to falter.
From the 1950s until the 1970s, the area remained under the control of the triads, which controlled the rampant racket of prostitution and gambling.
In 1990 the city had 50,000 inhabitants in an area of 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres).
In January 1987, the Hong Kong government decided to demolish it.
A long and complicated process for the eviction of the inhabitants started. Demolition work began in March 1993 and ended in April 1994.
In December 1995, Kowloon Walled City Park was opened and built where the neighborhood once stood.
A fictional Kowloon Walled City is visited by Ryo Hazuki, the main character of the Japanese game Shenmue II.
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Featured image: Kowloon Walled City with Squatter Village in front in 1970s. The south side of the Kowloon Walled City in 1975. The elevation of the buildings begins to reach its maximum height. Ian Lambot
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