If you ask today’s youngsters what does “Kowloon” stand for, they’ll probably say it’s a Call of Duty map. But twenty years ago, Kowloon Walled City was real and (overly) abuzz; an unclaimed territory mostly controlled by gangs, it was one of the wildest, most fascinating urban communities the world had ever witnessed.
As the 20 year anniversary of its demolition approaches, the South China Morning Post created an infographic that aims to depict life on earth’s most densely populated city. (You can click on the image in this post for a super-high-res version)
Arch Daily has a nice recap of Kowloon’s rise and fall with evincing photographs of how life looked like in the walled city:
The Kowloon walled city was like a glitch in the urban fabric of Hong Kong; a solid 2.7 hectare block of unrestrained city. Depending on who you ask, it was a Bladerunner-esque slum or a poor, but tight-knit community. Either way, for the best part of the last century, it was the most densely populated place on earth, with 3,250,000 people per square mile, compared to Hong Kong’s mere 17,000.
Between the buildings there was a dense labyrinth of crevice-like alleyways, many only 1-2 meters wide, where sunlight rarely made it down to ground level. When navigating this network, residents would carry umbrellas to protect themselves from water dripping from leaky pipes above. An interwoven series of stairs and passageways meant you could travel from one end of the enclave to the other, without ever touching ground.