Olympics Imperil Historic Beijing Neighborhood – Jim Yardley

From the New York Times:

Beij.190.2A short walk from Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, a historic neighborhood named Qianmen is an eerie picture of destruction. Ancient homes lie in rubble. Scavengers squat in alleyways and wait to ransack vacated buildings.

The reason for the devastation is the 2008 Olympic Games, which have turned much of the city into a noisy, disjointed construction zone. New subway lines and new roads are under construction, even an entire new downtown. On the city’s northern rim, at least 25,000 laborers are building the Olympic stadiums and village.

And yet amid such grandiose projects, it is modest Qianmen, once the domain of Qing Dynasty opera singers and classical scholars, that is prompting an uneasy question. Will the Olympics, which organizers promised would enhance the city’s ”cultural heritage,” instead help finish off what remains of old ? [Full text]



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