Friday, April 11, 2014

Daily Life in Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong from Between 1980s and Early 1990s

The Kowloon Walled City was a singular Hong Kong phenomenon: 33,000 people living in over 300 interconnected high-rise buildings, built without the contributions of a single architect, ungoverned by Hong Kong's safety and health regulations, covering one square city block in a densely populated neighborhood near the end of the runway at Kai Tak airport. 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.

In collaboration with Ian Lambot, Canadian photographer Greg Girard spent five years photographing and becoming familiar with the Walled City, its residents, and how it was organized. So seemingly compromised and anarchic on its surface, it actually worked -and to a large extent, worked well. The Walled City was torn down in 1992 "but the photographs, oral histories, maps and essays in our book provide the most thorough record of daily life in a place that was a true Hong Kong original," he says.

Today Lambot and Girard are working together again to produce City of Darkness Revisited, an all-new edition that will combine the best of the original book with several new sections that will fill in some of the gaps and bring the story up to date. A unique record of life in Kowloon Walled City before its demolition in 1993, and they are funding publication via Kickstarter. The campaign still has 7 days to run and every bit of extra support from now will only drive them on to produce the best book possible about life in Kowloon Walled City.

Kowloon Walled City Night View from SW Corner. 1987

Rooftop apartment, Walled City, 1991

Watching aircraft land at Kai Tak Airport from Walled City rooftop, 1990

BBQ Meat Factory, 1990

Rubber Plunger Factory, 1989

Hairdresser, Kowloon Walled City, 1989

Worker in Fishball Factory, 1987

Mail Delivery, Kowloon Walled City, 1989

Walled city resident in his 7x12 ft home, 1989

Dentist, Walled City, 1989

Noodle Factory and Family Residence, 1989

Delivering flour, Kowloon Walled City, 1990

Weaving Factory, Walled City, 1989

Metal grate protects temple from garbage, thrown from upper floors, 1989

Relaxing on Walled City rooftop, 1989

Young boy in family-run shop, 1990

Young boy in living area in back of family shop, 1990

Walled City, Tung Tau Tsuen Rd, 1987

Children playing on Walled City rooftop, 1989

Cathay Pacific jet passing Walled City rooftops. 1989

For more information, please visit their website at

(Kowloon Walled City - Photos © Greg Girard)

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