Bulldozers Meet Historic Chinese Neighborhood

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Mao slept here. So, too, did the imperial eunuchs who found themselves unemployed after China’s last emperor was sent packing. For much of the last 700 years, however, the most prominent residents of the quarter just north of the Forbidden City have been a pair of massive brick towers whose drums and bells helped Beijing’s citizenry keep track of the hour.

More recently, those who reside in the neighborhood known as Gulou are anxiously counting the days until construction crews begin turning its 32 charmingly decrepit acres into a polished tourist attraction called Beijing Time Cultural City.

Anchored by the ancient Drum and Bell Towers, the $73 million redevelopment will include courtyard homes for the rich, a “timekeeping” museum and an underground mall, presumably well stocked with Rolexes and Cartiers — or perhaps their more affordable counterfeit cousins....

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