Day Sixty-three: Disappearing Hutongs

Day Sixty-three-6681 Beijing’s hutongs are disappearing at an alarming rate, replaced by luxury malls, office buildings and apartment complexes. And while the loss of these historic neighborhoods are mourned by some, and no doubt their disappearance also takes with them a way of life, they are old and crumbling–substandard housing we would call them in the USA.
This hutong is southeast of Tianenmen and I headed there after watching the flag lowering ceremony in the square. It was dark by the time I found it and there was minimal light on most of the narrow alleys. I was looking for a way out of the neighborhood when I noticed a red glow a couple of blocks to my south, so I worked my way toward it and discovered this lone sign advertising the location of a traditional Peking Duck restaurant. A literal red light district.

Just about a mile northwest of this spot the National People’s Congress is convening on Wednesday for a 10 day meeting; according to news reports, 80 of the politically connected representatives in attendance are billionaires. With a ‘B’

2 thoughts on “Day Sixty-three: Disappearing Hutongs

  1. Tom, I’m delighted with your “cathedral window” photographs. Think of what some of the greats from the early 20th century would have said. Their marvelous world of light and shadow is a whole different genre. how fascinated they would have been with the timing and filtering (and yes, even photoshopping for the non-purists.)

    Your postings are giving me daily pleasure.

    • Florine, thank you, it is a real boost to hear from people who read the blog. I’d still write it and photograph it even if nobody came to see it, but it is gratifying to know that people are enjoying this. To your point of photography’s changing landscape–my dad gave me a camera and taught me to develop and print black and white film during the mid-60’s; the dodging, burning cropping and washing one did with chemicals is very similar to what we do know with pixels; except it smells better and I don’t have to hang out in a darkroom to do it. This particular photot is straight from the camera. no filters, no photoshop. Sometimes the world gives you exactly what you want.

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