The name Kowloon City most often brings to mind the historic Kowloon Walled City. Back in the Song Dynasty, the Emperor's troops arrived at the site of the future Walled City and built the first garrison. Military presence continued throughout the Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, when a yamen (public official's residence) was established and troops stationed there.

In the Qing Dynasty, a fort was added to reinforce its defence. The south-facing Kowloon Walled City commanded an area of 2.7 hectares, with a city wall measuring 210 by 120 metres. There were six lookout towers and four city gates, with the main entrance at the south gate overlooking the sea. Chinese officials remained in the Walled City right up to the signing of the Sino-British Treaty for the extension of Hong Kong's boundary.

By the turn of the century, the Walled City had become quite derelict. Then during Japanese occupation in the 1940s, it lost its walls altogether as the Japanese army tore them down to extend nearby Kai Tak Airport. After the war, the boundary of Kowloon Walled City gradually widened. In 1987, Britain and China agreed on its demolition.

In August 1995, Kowloon Walled City Park was opened on the original site of the Walled City. Featuring a classic Chinese garden design, the park houses some interesting relics that were unearthed during demolition of the old city. These include a stone plaque, a cannon, stone columns and the stone tablet of the Chinese yamen. To help visitors understand the changes in the Kowloon Walled City through the centuries, the park has preserved the facade of the original yamen, its stone tablet, the old South Gate and pre-war concrete ruins.

The opening of Hong Kong's new international airport at Chek Lap Kok marked the beginning of a new era for Kowloon City. Gone is the hair-raising sight of planes disappearing in a maze of residential blocks while descending to the old Kai Tak airport. But the old premises are no means abandoned. Today, a flea market stands on the Kai Tak runway, tempting visitors with all sorts of fun items. This colourful bazaar has brought new life to Kowloon City.