Video: Kowloon: the most populous city on the planet
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
Sometimes the political situation or the historical context is the cause of the appearance of unusual phenomena or places. This is exactly what happened with the fortress city of the Kowloon Peninsula, which from an ordinary Chinese military fort turned into the most populous city on the planet.
And even though this place has not existed for more than a quarter of a century, it still deserves a mention because of its unique history.
The history of this unique place began as a fortress on the Kowloon Peninsula, built at the end of the first millennium. Its area is relatively small - only 126 by 213 meters. And for many years this status did not change, until on June 9, 1898, the Convention on the Expansion of the Territory of Hong Kong was signed between the Chinese and the British, securing the transfer of the island under British rule for 99 years.
However, this territory had an exception - Fort Kowloon with a population of 700 people - according to the treaty, it remained under the protection of China.
Since then, the population of Kowloon Walled City began to grow rapidly, because the city, although formally remained Chinese territory, in fact, the Chinese authorities simply did not remember about it.
In particular, the residents of Kowloon did not pay taxes - Hong Kong had no right to levy them, and China was far away, so the city only became more attractive for moving. There were no problems with starting a business here either: private shops or offices for the provision of various types of services appeared at a tremendous speed, and democratic prices attracted not only customers among locals, but also residents of Hong Kong.
However, the same situation had the other side of the coin: the absence of regulatory authorities as such led to the fact that crime, as well as various illegal businesses, flourished in Kowloon. Moreover, at some point, real power fell into the hands of criminal gangs that spread their influence far beyond the tiny town.
The unprecedented influx of population required the appearance of a new residential area, but the borders did not expand. Therefore, at first, the space between the old houses was built up, and later the buildings began to add floors. Moreover, it was only possible to stop this process … aviation: the development above was simply impossible, because there were already taking off or landing planes at the Kaitak airport, located nearby.
But the sunlight in the city was clearly not enough: it simply did not penetrate through the dense high buildings. There was no place for leisure and even banal walks in the city, so the locals adapted such zones right on the roofs of their houses.
In total, up to 500 buildings were erected, inside which people live in small rooms, which are often divided into living and working areas - a store or a production workshop. This situation made this piece of land the most densely populated place on the planet. Kowloon's life was also not easy: the water supply was limited to wells, from which water was pumped with electric pumps.
At the same time, electricity was directly supplied to the city illegally: by way of artisanal connection to the power grids of Hong Kong.
It goes without saying that such a city could not exist for a long time in the realities of even the twentieth century, therefore, as soon as the agreement between Great Britain and China ceased to operate, the fate of Kowloon, as an extremely problematic city, was decided. So, the demolition of the building officially began in March 1993, just a year later nothing was left of the dense development, and local residents were relocated to new houses.
However, the history of this unique place was not forgotten: in December 1995, the Kowloon Walled City Park was opened, which included the former territory of the built-up fortress, as well as the only historical building in Kowloon - Yamen, which is an administrative building erected in the middle of the nineteenth century.
And you can see what the most densely populated place on the planet was in the surviving photographs, as well as on the model, which is located in the same park.
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