Beijing: When Olympic marathon runners pass through Beijing`s historic Qianmen neighbourhood this August, the grey-brick storefronts with red and gold curved eaves will only look like traditional Chinese architecture.
The area`s main shopping drag is being rebuilt with two- and three-storey commercial buildings that will house name brands from Prada to Starbucks. In the narrow alleys to the east, more than 10,000 families have been moved out of their one-storey courtyard homes that are a symbol of old Beijing to make way for pricier residences, high-end restaurants and a boutique hotel.
Image: With the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong`s posters on sales at a shop, shoppers walk along a Qianmen Hutong in Beijing, on June 8, 2008. About 1,000 of Beijing`s famous old alleyways, known as `hutongs` remain, down from some 3,000 in 1950. The Qianmen development spells a major change for one of Beijing`s most fabled neighborhoods. Lying just outside the old imperial city and Tiananmen Square, it gets its name from the towering gate, Qianmen means `front gate` that once stood as an entrance to the city.
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