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The Walls of Beijing

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In 1979, the People’s Government of Beijing put an end to a travesty that had been ongoing since the Boxer Rebellion of 1901: the systematic deconstruction of Beijing’s old city walls and gates.  What was once a marvelous and city-defining system of structures had given way to make the innermost of Beijing’s notorious ring roads, the Second Ring Road.  Since that time, the historic hutong neighborhoods of old Beijing have also fallen into disrepair and most have been wiped off the map in favor of giant hotels, ugly tiled government buildings, and commercial centers. Those elements were the heart of an historic and vibrant capital.  Beijing is certainly pulsing with unrestrained growth and life today, but all in the shadow of CPC-approved white glazed tile apartment blocks. It would be fantastic if instead, the government of the 1950s and 1960s had decided to build the second ring road as a perimiter a few hundred meters outside of the extant city walls and gates.  The city could have developed like it is now, sprawling and choked with traffic, but the historical core could have served as the greatest and largest urban tourist attraction on Earth.  Take Nicosia, the capital city of the divided island of Cyprus.  It still has its city walls intact and it looks really cool! All I’m trying to say is: if the Chinese government can make it rain on command and build skyscrapers that look like a pair of glass trousers, the least they can do is undertake a massive project to either reconstruct their city walls and gates or go back in time and right the wrong that is the second ring road.  Not in the least because then, my apartment would be inside the city walls.  Who among you can say that?
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Written by Preston

January 26th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

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One Response to 'The Walls of Beijing'

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  1. American metro areas should also go back to the old way of building cities on rooooock n’ roooooll.

    Sean

    15 Apr 10 at 00:29

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