It appears that one of our favorite historical spots in Beijing, the area including the Drum and Bell Towers and surrounding hutongs – often referred to as the Gulou area – will be spared from demolition.
A multibillion yuan property development called “Time Cultural City” was going to be built on a 12.5-acre plot at Gulou, threatening the Yuan-era hutongs in the area, which date back more than 600 years. After government intervention following public outcry, a vastly downsized “time museum” requiring no demolition will be built 20 meters southeast of the Drum Tower.
As was noted in a recent interview on this blog, much of Beijing’s ancient charm disappeared with the destruction of the old city wall, which now exists only in the names of subway stations.
But there are still plenty of historical sites in Beijing worth preserving. One of the people working to make sure that shortsighted development doesn’t trump cultural heritage is He Shuzhong, founder of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center.
“I see the changing of policy as a sign of government progress,” He told Global Times. “It shows that the government has a better understanding of the value of old community culture and it accepts the voices from the public and non-government organizations.”
We applaud He’s efforts to protect Beijing’s historical treasures and the Beijing government’s wise decision to spare the Gulou area from the wrecking ball.
Drum Tower image: kafka4prez’s flickr page