Tianjin: A city that paved and sold its soul
October 28, 2008
People sit on the sidewalk outside of a bus station in Tianjin, China.
Workers look over a demolished housing district in central Tianjin, China, which has been destroyed to make room for modern high-rise building construction.
Partially constructed high-rise buildings reach into the sky in Tianjin, China. Tianjin has demolished almost all of the hutongs, small residential alleys, in the city to make way for “modern” construction projects.
People wait for buses in a shopping district in Tianjin, China.
Photos of tourists posing with a captive bear hang on a wall near a bear enclosure at the Tianjin Zoo in Tianjin, China.
A woman wearing a scarf over her face walks her bicycle across a street in Tianjin, China.
Tourists sit around a sculpture of a woman in traditional Chinese clothing on the Ancient Culture Street in central Tianjin, China.
A diorama in the Tianjin Museum in Tianjin, China, depicts the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxer Rebellion was an underground movement to drive foreign forces out of Tianjin between 1899 to 1901.
Visitors crowd around the entrance of the Tianjin Zoo in Tianjin, China.
A woman sells cigarettes in an impromptu market in a partially-demolished area in Tianjin, China.
Men stand next to a brick wall in the antique market in Tianjin, China.
A mandarin chinese character (in white circle) spray-painted on the side of a building indicates the building will soon be demolished in Tianjin, China. The building stands in the former site of a hutong, a traditional Chinese residential alleyway, which is being demolished to make way for the construction of modern high-rise buildings in central Tianjin, China.
Visitors gather around the entrance to the lion and tiger house at the Tianjin Zoo in Tianjin, China.
People illuminated by the lights of a car walk down a street in Tianjin, China.
Tianjin's recent history is volatile and bloody. The front of the Boxer Rebellion, the uprising against foreign influence in the country, the city's legacy in the founding of modern China is strongly held. But the city itself, however, couldn't be more fluid. More fervent to build a great modern urban destination that even Beijing, Tianjin has demolished and rebuilt its entirety, paving over the hutongs that once made a labyrinth of its streets, building highrises and hypermarkets to meet every demand of the wealthy. The city, like many other so-called second- and third-tier cities in China has positioned itself as a global center for international business. Whether the bid will be successful is anybody's guess. The people of Tianjin, however, now have longer commutes, higher prices, and haze to rival the countries industrial centers. In one particularly vivid example of the demolition and construction cycle, pictures below show a former hutong (small residential alleyways that until recently comprised every city in China) broken down to bedrock, flattened into a million little fragments of bricks. Not to worry, though. Tianjin has built a model "Ancient Culture Street" to show what the old city would have looked like. Just as with the antique market, the street is bustling with tourists and locals hoping to get a glimpse of the past that isn't very distant.