The Demolition Of Beijing’s Hutongs

Beijing is famous for the many old narrow Hutong (胡同) streets formed by closely attached Siheyuans (四合院) that are the traditional courtyard residences in Beijing and often many hundred years old.

However most of these village like living areas are replaced by new modern tall buildings. Although the living standard is much higher there, Beijing’s urbanization is the reason why it is quickly losing its cultural authenticity, typical character, charm and vibrant street life.

Many residents have lived a lifetime in these close-knit communities and are reluctant to relocate. They can’t afford to buy an apartment in these new and expensive buildings and that’s why the residents often move to the outer skirts of Beijing.

On the other side some residents may also welcome a new and modern apartment, because life in these old houses is not easy. There is no warm water, just public toilets and shower rooms, not enough heating and people are squeezed together in these old small houses.

I shot this series of photos in 2013 and 2014. The depicted area is already completely gone.

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