“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Bad News from Beijing – Hutong Demolitions Start at Gulou Xidajie & Dashibei Hutong

Posted: August 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

More bad news, reported in the Beijinger, of hutong destruction – this time Gulou Xidajie. Ostensibly this is of illegal frontages and other structures but is inevitably also taking down hutong architecture. You all know this, but I’ll repeat it again anyway (and I await the usual flurry of emails telling me the hutongs aren’t worth saving, repairable and that all anyone wants is a high rise flat in a distant suburb) – in 1949 (by the Beijing city administrations own numbers) there were 3,050 hutongs. By 1990 this was down to 2,250; by 2004 to 1,300 and by 2012 to 900. The number is now probably around 600, but at least half of those are changed beyond recognition as a hutong, truncated in some way and the new spate of apparently rather random bulldozerings (random in terms of what walls and window spaces etc are being pulled down). This is now a very real and imminent case of architectural extinction…

 

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