As in Rome and Athens, ancient relics in Beijing stand in stark contrast to the highways, buildings and vehicles of the modern age. At Beijing's Jianguomen, the fortification-like Ancient Observatory -- dating from 1442 during the Ming Dynasty -- dodges the overpasses of the Second Ring Road while standing within steps of a subway station.
To what extent Old Beijing -- which can be defined as anytime from "ancient" to pre-1990s, depending on the context -- can survive urban development post-Olympics is perhaps best answered by Beijing's urban planners.
Among the endangered are the hutongs, or narrow alleys, and siheyuan, or courtyards, where city residents have long lived. Read full article »