The history of the most densely populated area on the planet
• The history of the most densely populated area on the planet
Hundreds of tightly pressed against each other apartment buildings, narrow passageways between them, not knowing the sunlight, children, for lack of an alternative to playing on the roofs of buildings, the secret kingdom of triads, opium dens and brothels.
In 1987, here on a small plot of 2, 6 hectares were about 33 thousand. Man. This area has become Hong Kong's history, but it was a model of order and to what degree can reach monstrous seal. Striking fate walled city of Kowloon in our review.
1841. UK leads a successful war against the Chinese Qing Dynasty. At the heart of the conflict - the desire of the British Crown to sell more of opium for local people on the one hand and individual daring decision to ban the import of Chinese officials to China Bengali drug - on the other.
One of the episodes of the long-standing history, which ended, of course, in favor of who carried their burden of fire and sword of the white man was the landing of the British assault on Hong Kong Island and neighboring Koulunskom Peninsula. The peninsula is the British found a small eponymous town of Kowloon (translated as "Nine Dragons") and fortified fort served as the residence of the local mandarin. According to the results of the First Opium War in 1842 Hong Kong Island to the British he departed, and the new convention, extends the jurisdiction of the Empire on which the sun never sets, and even the peninsula (the so-called "New Territories") was concluded in 1898. Under the agreement, which has been shown to have been strictly complied with, Hong Kong and Kowloon were leased by Britain for the next 99 years, with one little circumstance, which had a great impact.
This circumstance in the map above is marked as Chinese Town ( "Chinese city" in the top right corner). According to the convention in 1898, the most fortified fort inhabited by Chinese officials of the lease are excluded. He continued to be the territory of the Qing empire, forming the British colonies peculiar enclave. In those years, of course, no one could imagine that this fact a few decades will lead to the formation of the Hong Kong quarter, unmatched on the third planet from the Sun in population density.
Extraterritoriality of the walled city of Kowloon was only nominal. In fact, control of the fort, surrounded by thick walls, carried out by the British. During World War II, the peninsula was occupied by the Japanese, to understand the fortress and use the stone from which to expand a military airport, then for many years turned into Kai Tak, Hong Kong's main airport, one of the most dangerous in the world.
It all began after the Second World War. De jure walled city of Kowloon, let the already fortifications, continued to be Chinese territory, surrounded on all sides by a British colony. In fact, there did not act and the administration of the laws of Hong Kong, its inhabitants did not pay taxes to anyone. Kowloon was a real black hole, the promised land for refugees from the "mainland", fleeing the civil war in China, where the second half of the 1940s, the Communist People's Liberation Army vengeance drove the Kuomintang puppet away from the future territory of the People's Republic of China.
On the territory of the former fort began to massively flock at first hundreds, then thousands, eventually turned into tens of thousands of squatters who have used the status of Kowloon, to start a new life is formally still in China, and in fact, in the same Hong Kong, using all its benefits, but it is existing at the same time almost completely independently. Any attempt to prevent spontaneous British administration building on a small speck of length 210 and 120 meters in width encountered resistance not only local residents, but also to the Chinese government, threatened diplomatic conflict in the event of any action the Hong Kong authorities in the territory, which they considered their own.
By the end of 1960 in an area of 2, 6 ha lived, according to some estimates, up to 20 thousand. Man. The exact figure is, of course, one can not be called: any records of residents of the city-fortress was impossible to conduct.
These tens of thousands of people demonstrated miracles of survival and adaptation to the environment, in fact, an anarchist society. There is no central water supply? No problem. 70 wells have been dug, the water from which the electric pump to the roofs of buildings, and from there through the maze of countless tubes are sent to the apartment consumer. No electricity? Among the residents of the quarter there were many employees of Hong Kong Electric, perfectly capable of making Hong Kong illegally connect to the power grid and to help it to their neighbors.
They built themselves as residents of Kowloon. First, in the city-fortress, successfully cleared from the pre-war building bombing of Allied forces, there were one-, two- and three-storey houses. Then, with increasing population of the area number of floors beginning to grow rapidly. Growing and building density. So Kowloon changed for decades.
In fact, any free site within the limits approved by the Convention in 1898, received his high-rise building. Relatively free it left only a small spot in the center of the quarter, where the preserved Yamen - Mandarin Residences, one of the rare relics, still reminiscent of the past history of Kowloon.
Around the same it by 1980-mu was built approximately 350 high-rise buildings located so closely that a panorama image Kowloon reminded, rather, one huge and terribly ugly building.
Street in the quarter, in fact, was not. Were passageways so forming an intricate network for the uninitiated that intruder falls here, rapidly losing orientation in space. Construction was so dense and the space Klondike anarchism so valuable that the flats are often hung over the passes without missing to sunlight.
On the other hand, inside the block, and there was no car, only hundreds of meters, kilometers labyrinth of narrow alleys.
The passages highlighted a few lights glowing neon signs so countless shops, boutiques, hairdressers, doctors' offices, occupying all the ground floors of buildings.
Only some dentists there were about a hundred, and a rebound in customers they had. No need to get a medical license and pay taxes to anyone allowed to keep the prices of services at the level of the reach of their Hong Kong colleagues working on the next, but "civilized" street.
There were also a variety of small and artisanal production. In Kowloon, it had its own industry: food, haberdashery, easy. In fact, it was a city within a city, is largely capable of existing independently.
In the first quarter it was even a few of their kindergartens and schools, but mainly, of course, for the small children looked older family members, and the older children had somehow turned to arrange in Hong Kong schools. There were no sports facilities, clubs, cinemas. In fact, a space for socializing and recreation area of the inhabitants of steel roof, where it was possible to find at least some free space.
It played and children grew up, met and talked their parents, sitting at his desk in Mahjong older generation.
A flew over the roofs enormous planes, which were to apply by hand. The specificity of the approach to the airport Kai So, the one who went to build walls of Kowloon, demanded the pilots how to perform dangerous, and so spectacular U-turn just before landing.
It begins at an altitude of 200 meters, and ended already at 40, and somewhere in the middle of this difficult-to-maneuver, the pilot is bristling, like rotten teeth, high-rise buildings in Kowloon. It is because of this neighborhood quarter height of the buildings was limited to 14 floors - almost the only requirement of the Hong Kong administration, which the inhabitants of the city-fortress was performed. In return, they received a tremendous and absolutely free sight directly over their heads.
In the first decades of the old Chinese fortress transformed into a sleeping area with its own special flair only real power there were a triad - a secret criminal organization, more common in pre-war China.
advantage of the absence of interest in the quarter by the Hong Kong administration and its law enforcement agencies, they turned just begun to grow in the area of the nest of various vices. In Kowloon literally blossomed casinos, brothels, opium dens.
One of the Chinese writers described the Kowloon those years in his book "Shadow City": "Here on one side of the street are hookers, and on the other the priest gives to the poor milk powder, until the social workers distribute instructions addicts sit with the dose under the stairs in the hallways and playgrounds at night turn into a dance floor for the strippers. "
Only in the mid-1970s, the Hong Kong authorities, who decided to finally had enough of it to endure, and to seek the approval of the Chinese government implemented an ambitious series of police raids ended the de facto expulsion from Kowloon all OPG.
Despite its brutal appearance, the area in terms of the crime situation was quite peaceful place.
During these years, there finally appeared centralized water and electricity supply and sewerage system in Kowloon started to deliver mail.
However, these important changes for the better turns walled city in a more or less comfortable place to live, does not affect the appearance of Kowloon. Anarchy is continued samostroi grew about any major repairs of buildings or even a cosmetic renovation of the facade could not walk and talk. In the history of the quarter I came in that way.
Most of the inhabitants lived in a small apartment with an average area of 23 square. m. Distribution received various extensions to the internal and external facades of buildings. Those completely fused, in the area formed even second, parallel ground, transitions the system is already at a certain height from the ground. Kowloon converted into a single-piece body, a huge "communal apartment" building-city, like now come from a post-apocalyptic future.
In 1987, the governments of Britain and China signed an agreement to settle the status of Kowloon in the light of 10 years of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule. British prison authorities finally gained the right to take down her face mutilated quarter.
Demolition began in 1992-1993. All residents have received or monetary compensation for relocation, or an apartment in rosshey by leaps and bounds of modern buildings in Hong Kong. Still, the process of destruction of the relic of the anarchist, who was born almost a century ago, was accompanied by a storm of protests by Aboriginal, who did not want to lose the usual freemen and lifestyle.
Nevertheless, Kowloon was doomed. They carried him quickly, but the empty area, and so regularly fall into filmmakers lens could "light up" in the film Crime Story ( "Crime Story") in 1993, in which the hero Jackie Chan fights with the kidnappers of the Hong Kong businessman.
One of the key paintings of episodes filmed in Kowloon, and the task before its liquidation allowed the creators of blockbuster shoot several spectacular scenes with explosions fortress town houses.
After the demolition on the site of the same name appeared Kowloon scenic park, repeating its shape. Now it is a favorite vacation spot of locals and its phantasmagoric past reminds a memorial with the layout of the quarter, which became a regular attraction in Hong Kong.
In 1987, when the Hong Kong Administration and the Chinese government signed an agreement, doomed to destruction area, a study was conducted that allowed more or less accurately determine the number of its inhabitants. It turned out that on 2, 6 hectares there were about 33 thousand. Man. It was an absolute record population density on earth.
For comparison, if the Kowloon area was in the 1st quarter. km, there was live 1, 27 million people. And if Moscow became Kowloon with its area of about 2,500 square meters. km, that would live in the Russian capital almost 3, 2 billion people, that is the entire population of China, India, USA and Indonesia combined.