Guangzhou Alleyway Neighbourhood

Like most Chinese cities, Guangzhou is sliced up into large blocks by big streets, and each of these blocks is dissected by lots of tiny, meandering alleyways. (It’s like a more fine-grained version of American suburbia, with its arterial roads and spaghetti subdivisions.)

In Beijing, these alleyway neighbourhoods are called hutongs, and the few that havent been demolished are being gentrified, sometimes to pleasant effect (like Nanluoguxiang, though that may soon change) but more often into a state of tacky vacuousness (see Houhai).

Compared to China’s other “first-tier” cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen — Guangzhou feels a bit like a shabby backwater, probably because it attracts few tourists and because most new development has been focused in the newer parts of the city to the east, away from the historic centre. This leaves the city’s oldest neighbourhoods relatively untouched by redevelopment. The neighbourhood you see here is just a couple of hundred metres from the Pearl River, right in the centre of town.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Friday June 11 2010at 11:06 pm , filed under Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “Guangzhou Alleyway Neighbourhood”

  • Des says:

    It’s a really beautiful city, isn’t it. Quite under-rated and under-appreciated, too, I think. Not sure why, though much of what you explain makes sense. Visiting there for a few days, I found it hard to conceptualize how much of the ‘modern’ infrastructure fit in – the railway station is a fair ways out, the new developments (as you mention) are off to the east, etc. Nice pics.