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Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development

Restoring a Historic City


Beijing is embracing new opportunities to protect its old city as a whole, as the municipality is transferring functions non-essential to the capital to its new sub-administrative center in Tongzhou District, and the nation steps up protection of historical and cultural heritage.

Beijing's old city area, formed during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties and covering only 62.5 square km, hosts historic streets, courtyards, hutong alleyways and architecture. However, the old city has been subject to demolition and damage as a result of city planning in the 1950s and 1960s as well as the booming real estate development in the recent three decades.

According to the Beijing Institute of Surveying and Mapping, 639 hutongs were torn down between 1990 and 2003. The General Plan of Beijing City (2004-20), published in 2005, requires Beijing's old city to be protected as a whole. Preserving the old city is also essential to Beijing's strategic positioning as the national cultural center.

In the future, historical rivers and lakes in the old city will be restored. The 7.8-km-long, north-to-south central axis will also be restored, and its world heritage application progressed. Some of the residents in the old city area will be relocated to ease transportation and environmental pressure. The occupants of historical courtyards will be resettled, and the buildings renovated. The government will provide residents willing to move out from such buildings with either substitute housing or monetary compensation.

(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Oriental Outlook on April 27)

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