Kowloon Walled City was a densely populated, largely ungoverned settlement in New Kowloon, Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain in 1898. Its population increased dramatically following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II. In 1987, the Walled City contained 33,000 residents within its 2.6-hectare (0.010 sq mi) borders. From the 1950s to the 1970s, it was controlled by Triads and had high rates of prostitution, gambling, and drug use.
In January 1987, the Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish the Walled City. After an arduous eviction process, demolition began in March 1993 and was completed in April 1994. Kowloon Walled City Park opened in December 1995 and occupies the area of the former Walled City. Some historical artefacts from the Walled City, including its yamen building and remnants of its South Gate, have been preserved there.
Current status as park:
The area where the Walled City once stood is now Kowloon Walled City Park, located in today's Kowloon City District. The 31,000 m2 (330,000 sq ft) park was completed in August 1995, and opened officially by Governor Chris Patten a few months later on 22 December.Construction of the park cost a total of HK$76 million. It is adjacent to Carpenter Road Park.
The park's design is modelled on Jiangnan gardens of the early Qing Dynasty. It is divided into eight landscape features,with the fully restored yamen as its centrepiece. The park's paths and pavilions are named after streets and buildings in the Walled City. Artefacts from the Walled City, such as five inscribed stones and three old wells, are also on display in the park.
On a green lawn surrounded by a brick wall lie broken engraved stones and stone foundations.
Components of the park include:
The Eight Floral Walks, each named after a different plant or flower
The Chess Garden, featuring four 3-by-5-metre (9.8 by 16.4 ft) Chinese chessboards
The Garden of Chinese zodiac, containing stone statues of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals
The Garden of Four Seasons (named Guangyin Square after the small open area in the Walled City), a 300 m2 (3,200 sq ft) garden with plants that symbolise the four seasons
The Six Arts Terrace, a 600 m2 (6,500 sq ft) wedding area containing a garden and the Bamboo Pavilion
The Kuixing Pavilion, including a moon gate framed by two stone tablets and the towering Guibi Rock, which represents Hong Kong's return to China
The Mountain View Pavilion, a two-storey structure resembling a docked boat that provides a good view of the entire park
The Lung Tsun, Yuk Tong, and Lung Nam Pavilions
The yamen and the remains of the South Gate
The Antiquities and Monuments Office conducted archaeological examinations as the Walled City was being demolished, and several cultural remains were discovered. Among them were the Walled City's yamen and remnants of its South Gate, which were officially designated declared monuments of Hong Kong on 4 October 1996.
The South Gate had originally served as the Walled City's main entrance. Along with its foundation, other remains included two stone plaques inscribed with "South Gate" and "Kowloon Walled City" from the South Gate and a flagstone path that had led up to it. The foundations of the City's wall and East Gate were also discovered.The Hong Kong government preserved the South Gate remnants next to a square in front of the yamen.
The yamen building is made up of three halls. Originally the middle hall served the Assistant Magistrate of Kowloon's administrative office, and the rear block was his residence. After the government officials left the area in 1899, it was used for several other purposes, including an old people's home, a refuge for widows and orphans, a school, and a clinic. It was restored in 1996 and is now found near the centre of the park. It contains a photo gallery of the Walled City, and two cannons dating back to 1802 sit at the sides of its entrance.