Reshaping Beijing for the 21st century

Todd Eberle

From Mao to Wow! Kurt Andersen Vanity Fair August 2008

When it comes to urban analogies, though, New York City actually seems more apt. Beijing’s historic core—the area with Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the main national government buildings, and some of the few remaining hutong neighborhoods—contains 1.3 million people in its 24 square miles, almost exactly the same as Manhattan; fully urbanized Beijing closely tracks the five boroughs of New York City in area and population; and the greater Chinese capital is about the same size as metropolitan New York.

But having just visited for the first time, I realized that what early-21st-century Beijing even more deeply resembles is New York at the turn of the 20th century. That’s the moment at which modern New York was inventing itself by showstopping leaps and bounds—swallowing adjacent cities and towns and farms, booming in population, and erecting what would become its defining landmarks.

For an interactive map of architectural monuments in Beijing click here.

And more on China’s monumental ambitions at this old post.

Edit: Another very good, lengthy article from The International Herald Tribune here.

Posted by Chris

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