In Beijing, a Brand-New Old Quarter (with photos)

In the New York Times, Richard Bernstein takes a walk through the new Dashalan pedestrian district:

But while most of the old residential areas of Beijing that have been demolished were transformed into zones of high-rise hotels, shopping centers and office buildings, Dashalar has been converted, perhaps ironically, back into what it once was — or, more accurately, into an idealized, postcard version of what it once was, a shopping street lined by three-story traditional Chinese buildings, with balconies above the first floor, latticed balustrades, red columns, bright gold-leaf Chinese signs against backgrounds of black wood.

“Western preservationists won’t like this,” said Chen Xiangming, a former Beijing resident who is professor of sociology and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and the editor of a new book, “Shanghai Rising.” We were on a recent walk through the brand-new pedestrian mall.

They won’t like it because creating a new copy of an old neighborhood fails to meet the standard of what is often called authenticity, which requires the preservation of the actual antique buildings. The opening of the Dashalar pedestrian district in this sense represents the completion of a strange sort of circle. dashalarAn old photo of Dashalar, via China Today

And the same view as a more recent interactive 360 degree photo:

Qianmen avenue – Dashalan mouth in Beijing via 360cities


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