Good Morning, Hutong

Beijing is not a good walking city. Its roads are too wide, its blocks too long — this is a city meant to be experienced on wheels, whether those of a bicycle or (increasingly) a compact sedan.

But as Christopher Szabla reminded us earlier this year, “Beijing is at least two cities”: the city beyond the Second Ring Road, with its new office blocks and apartment complexes, and the older city within it, made up of hutong alleyways and old, low-rise courtyard houses.

The hutongs are wonderful places to wander. They are built to a human scale, with narrow lanes, old wooden doors and small shops. They are also abnormally quiet, free from the traffic noise and honking that plagues the rest of Beijing. It’s easy to forget you are in the midst of a metropolis home to nearly 20 million people.

I took these photos last Friday on a walk through the hutongs near the Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, which is an area of town that has become increasingly fashionable with expats and young Beijingers who appreciate a city more intimate than what exists beyond the Second Ring Road.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday November 17 2010at 01:11 am , filed under Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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