Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Farewell to my local 'nail houses'

The 'nail houses' near where I live - obstinate pockets of squalor resisting the relentless tide of gentrification in the neighbourhood - have finally succumbed to the bulldozer. Actually, this happened two or three weeks ago, but the weather had been too shit (and I had been too busy) to take any pictures until the other day.
At night (on this site - somewhat unusually - the workers do actually knock off at night), this line of metal-sheet wall is largely opened up (WHY??), and there's no security at all (although the construction workers are sleeping somewhere in there). Alas, my 'happy snapper' camera is completely incapable of taking pictures at night.

The alarming thing about this building site is that they have dug a foundation pit over 20ft deep. It is something to behold - and I'm sorry I haven't got a picture of it for you yet. I dread to think what kind of HUGE edifice may be about to rise out of this chasm. This is is one of the last of the old hutong areas, only a few hundred yards from the famous Bell Tower; there is supposed to be some sort of 'preservation order' in place; there are supposed to be prohibitions against building anything tall or anything garishly modern. But this is China: if the developer distributes a few hong bao (little envelopes stuffed with cash) in the right places, he can do anything he wants.....

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