Kowloon Walled City was the densest—and most interesting?—place on Earth



I have a copy of City of Darkness and it is well worth looking at…


The Civic Centre in Plymouth is still standing - supposedly a superb example of 1950’s Brutalist architecture.

The local populace hate it and overwhelmingly want it demolished, so (supposedly) a group from the next city (Exeter) pushed for the site to have listed status - so as to nix the plans for development that might have detracted from Exeter’s draw.

I kinda like it, and it did look great in it’s heyday - now it’s been sold it might get the love it needs.

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Looks like it would be at home in Brasilia.

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I have to admit (largely from its mention by Gibson and others in fiction) to be somewhat fascinated by Kowloon Walled City. But its idolization is basically due to libertarian enthusiasts. It might have been fun to see, but not to actually live in. As one would expect from a city outside the control of any government, it was unsafe and crime-filled.

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People make their own government. It doesn’t require any unusual super-powers.

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I find it interesting because although it did have a lot of crime, it also wasn’t like the fictional portrayals in that it had a lot of ordinary people living normal lives and getting on well with each other. Hardly a libertarian paradise, but still a testament to the strength of people’s humanity.


Before we get too far into the “crime-riddled den of inequity” descriptions, I do suggest checking out the urban myths section of the City of Darkness website, which notes, among other things, that it had regular police patrols for several decades up until its demolition.

Laws were more laxly enforced – sanitation laws almost completely so, and drug possession would merely get you a night or two in jail and your stash confiscated – but, like most things about the city, the popular perception is a bit of an exaggeration from the reality.

First reaction:

What is that per hectare? about 12,700.

Second reaction:

When is someone going to insist that this is a perfectly appropriate density for their favorite Roman cities?

Aside from being a miserable shithole, it was really great.

Well my impression was that the crime levels changed over time…Libertarian paradise? Expensive water from unmonitored private wells rather than city water. 6-8 story buildings not designed or built to any kind of code and not subject to structural inispection. They’re quite luck that there was never a collapse as we saw in Bangladesh last year. So yeah “paradise”

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