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Beijing Begins Renovation of Ancient Thoroughfare


Renovation work on Qianmen Street, south of Tian'anmen Square in the heart of Beijing, started on Wednesday. "Preserving the historic appearance and improving the living conditions of residents is the main purpose of the renovation project," said Niu Qingshan, head of Chongwen District. "The electricity, gas and water supply network will be upgraded," he said. "Refurbishment of the time-honored shops on both sides of the thoroughfare will be finished before the end of this year," said Niu. After completion of the project, the street will be laid with green and white marble and ancient archways and an opera theater will be restored. Trams will also reappear on the street. The street is to become the second pedestrian thoroughfare in the Chinese national capital. The first one is Wangfujing Street, a downtown shopping district. Qianmen Street prospered as a commercial strip as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). By the time of Emperor Jiajing, the 12th Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperor, the street was dotted with guild halls built by different localities to provide housing to citizens taking imperial exams. Qianmen Street became even more prosperous in the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) with the development of theaters and teahouses. The massive redevelopment of Qianmen Street is part of Beijing's efforts to refurbish old city areas ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

(Source:Xinhua News Agency, 2007-05-10)