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City of Darkness is a book about the now-demolished Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.

Kowloon Walled City was the most densely populated place on Earth before it was destroyed in 1993 and turned into a park. At its peak, the “city” had 50,000 inhabitants on 0.026 km² area of land (that, according to Wikipedia, is equal to about 1,900,000 people per square kilometer). By contrast, Manhattan (NYC) has a population density of 25,849/km². Yeah, so if you think Manhattan is crowded, then think of it with roughly twice the amount of people in the same area and that’s close to what Kowloon Walled City was like (although I bet it was a lot worse). Here’s another comparison chart of how densely populated KWC was.

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Kowloon Walled City in 1973 – Population around 10,000

As bad as it was in terms of living conditions, looking at photos of Kowloon Walled City makes me wish it was still around so that I can go and visit it this coming summer [I'll be in Hong Kong in June 2008]. The place looked like it would be a great place to explore and rummage around especially with its make-shift architecture and numerous alleys and oddities (despite the unsanitary conditions and such). It reminds me a lot of comic book cities or something.

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Unfortunately, the location was largely undocumented and it looks like the book above is one of the most complete and easy-to-access resources I could find on KWC. If anybody knows of any other place I can see photos and read information, please pass that info along to me!

There are great aerial photos of KWC at deputydog.

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Anyway, I’d love to get a hold of City of Darkness and check it out and read up on the history of this place. Maybe when I’m in Hong Kong in June I’ll be able to visit the park that lies on Kowloon Walled City’s foundation. We’ll see. :)