Jiujie / Nantou / Xin’an Old Town

Years ago, I published becoming hong kong, razing baoan, preserving xin’an, an academic paper on urbanization as the ideology informing the construction of the Shenzhen SEZ. Part of that paper included an analysis of Nanshan District’s decision to create a walking museum at Nantou, the County Seat of Xin’an from the Ming Dynasty until the CCP moved it to Caiwuwei, in Shenzhen Market. The museum didn’t survive into 1998 and Nantou settled back into urban village life – migrant workers renting space in handshake buildings, small scale manufacturing taking place both at home and in low tech factories, and bustling streets of vendors, shops, and open air markets.

Yesterday, I walked Nantou and discovered Universiade traces. The roads that connected the buildings in the walking museum had been paved with grey bricks and the buildings abutting those streets (well all two of them) had been given “traditional” facelifts – a faux grey brick facade and eves. Moreover, the museum buildings have been reopened to the public! So the universiade upgrade of Nantou included Shenzhen’s ongoing push to open small museums in the urban villages.

Here’s the rub: Houses and streets beyond the scope of the museum remain as they were. Also, the gate god, which used to inhabit the old Ming gate to the city has been removed. All that remains of that living tradition are two holes on either side of the gate, where incense has been stuffed in. And yes, that’s an upgraded pedestrian overpass at the entrance to what remains of the walled city. Impressions of revamped and still unvamped Nantou, below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.