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Kowloon

In modern day Hong Kong, Kowloon (九龍 when unqualified) refers to the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. Kowloon City (九龍城) refers to a district where the walled city used to locate. The walled Kowloon City (九龍城寨) was destroyed in 1993.

This article is about the walled city. The usage of the term Kowloon to refer to the walled city throughout the entire article is archaic.

Kowloon (or 'Walled City Kowloon') was originally a single fort built in the mid-1800s on the site of an earlier 17th century watchpost in Hong Kong. The 1898 Peking Convention[?] (which handed Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years) excluded Kowloon, with a population of roughly 700, and stated that China could continue to keep troops there, so long as they did not interfere with Britain's temporary rule. Britain quickly went back on this unofficial part of the agreement, attacking Kowloon in 1899, only to find it deserted. They did nothing with or to the outpost, and thus sent the question of Kowloon's ownership squarely into the air.

Kowloon remained a curiosity until 1940, when Japan demolished much of the city to lay runways during its WWII occupation. After Japan's surrender, squatters began to reoccupy Kowloon, resisting several attempts by Britain in 1948 to drive them out. The 1949 foundation of the People's Republic of China added thousands of refugees to the population, and by this time, Britain had had enough, and simply adopted a 'hands-off' policy. A murder that occurred in Kowloon in 1959 set off a small diplomatic crisis, as the two nations each tried to get the other to claim responsibility for a vast tract of land now virtually ruled by anti-Manchurian Triads (the Hong Kong mafioso).

The Triads' rule lasted up until the mid-1970s, when a 1973-74 series of over 3,000 police raids occurred in Kowloon. With the Triads' power diminished, a strange sort of synergy blossomed, and the city began to grow almost organically, the square buildings folding up into one another as thousands of modifications were made, virtually none by architects, until hundreds of square metres were simply a kind of patchwork monolith. A mere eight municipal pipes somehow provided water to the entire structure. By the early 1980s, Kowloon had an estimated population of 35,000 - with a crime rate far below the Hong Kong average, despite the notable lack of any real law enforcement.

Needless to say, both the British and Chinese governments found this massive, anarchic city to be a bit much - despite the low crime, if the 'Black Market' ever had a physical location, this would have been it, and needless to say, the sanitary conditions were, well, a bit wanting. So came the mutual decision in 1987 to tear down the walled city.

Kowloon was destroyed in 1993.

See also: Kowloon City



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