The controversy about whether the Beijing’s old urban areas in the inner city should be removed has existed for many years. It took on new direction with China’s successful in bid for the 2008 Olympic Games, since China want to present an unique Olympics to the World by renovating its capital Beijing.
Hutongs, (residential lanes) and Siheyuans (compounds with houses around a courtyard)are most representative of Beijing historical architectural style and needed better protection and reconstruction.
According to the statistics released by the Beijing Urban Planning Institute, there are only 1571 hutongs in Beijing’s old urban areas in the inner city, among which 671 hutongs are under protection. With a long history, most of them are very dilapidated and needed a complete renovation before the 2008 Olympic Games.
From 2005 to 2006, Xicheng district begun carrying out renovations on their hutongs before the Beijing government gave RMB 1 billion to subsidize the renovation projects in Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu districts, involving 44 hutongs and nearly ten thousand households.
Renovations also began to the Qianmen Street began on May 9, 2007 and it reopened on August 7, 2008. It was turned into a pedestrian street keeping its original width and pattern.
To many Beijingers the gathering numerous of time-honored stores in Qianmen Street bears a precious memory of Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911).
Before its renovation, the percentage of dilapidated buildings in the Qianmen district was up to 80 percent, using new technology, the newly built Qianmen Street is beautiful in appearance and convenient in use.
Close to Qianmen Street, Da Shi Lan Street is home to the most ancient businesses in downtown Beijing. Starting from Qianmen Street in the east, ending at Meishi Street in the west, it covers an area of 1.1 sq km, clustered with more than 100 old and famous stores and hundreds of people crowding into it everyday.
Renovations began to Dashilan Street in May 2007 and after a-year-long reconstruction, it was reopened on July 30, 2008. 43 stores opened with their old-style look attracting domestic and overseas visitors flooded in.