This is part of the second series of Beijing 2006 – The hutong photos; see my journal posts Beijing 2006 – The hutong and Beijing 2006: Out with the old, in with the new for the background of this series.
See the location on a satellite map (Google’s street map doesn’t register with the satellite view!)
It’s not all destruction – we leave those depressing images behind for some more cheerful notes about urban renewal in Beijing.
I was walking West along Nanhing West St. (on my way to the Cow Street Mosque) when suddenly I found these two big trees upon my path – they were sitting practically on the road! Here was my first clue that during all the waves of urbanization and renewal where old hutong are razed down to make place for modern buildings and wider roads, not everything is razed down willy-nilly.
These two trees (best seen enlarged), each sitting in a large tiled concrete ‘tub’ that protects them from parking cars and traffic rushing past, are obviously older than the building with apartments and shops they stand next to. I estimate the buildings may date back to the 1960s or 1970s. There’s no hutong anywhere in sight in this area – just some smaller blocks with apartments and shops at street level, and even bigger, more modern buildings – but these trees stand out: they’re big enough to be easily recognizable on the satellite image even!
The conclusion is obvious: these trees were here before the road was widened to take the traffic of the major through road it now is, and before these buildings were erected.
Roaming through the city (or on the satellite map) it can be seen this is not even exceptional. In many areas with newer buildings, you can find trees that are much older than the buildings. In the different waves of hutong replacement and widening roads, they were protected wherever possible (and they still are – see the next image!).
Camera: Fuji Finepix F30
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