Travel to China: Taiyuan
Taiyuan is another of those second-tier Chinese cities that are hardly known outside China despite having populations approaching or in excess of three million. What to expect? The best short answer is: the unexpected.
Aerial approach. Looks like a City of the Future, as envisioned early in the 20th century. Except that this is no artist's conception. That's the Fenhe flowing south toward its confluence, a couple of hundred miles downstream, with the Yellow River.
Not only is this a place of high-rises, it's a place where high-rises grow in thickets or, in that ugly word, complexes. Is the street-plan gridded? Yes, the street plan is gridded.
The housing stock is distinctly generational, with older neighborhoods indicative of poorer times.
A bit of both eras appear here, with the Longtan Park in the upper left.
The 100% corner, Fu Xi Street and Xin Jian Road, the city's aspirational focus. We'll look more closely.
The Chinese love prestige brands; why this should be so remains fertile but unexplored country.
The models here are all Western.
If Americans grow up wishing that they looked like models, what do the Chinese grow up wishing?
Taiyuan is sometimes called a rust-belt city, and when it appears in Western news stories, the topic is generally coal or something related to coal. You'd never know it.
What was it that Deng said about wealth and glory?
For a nation that toils single-mindedly, nothing can be as alluring as sheer time-wasting.
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