Various T-shirts on sale along the popular Nanluoguxiang street in Beijing on the first day of the Lunar New Year. (Photo : Getty Images)
Nanluoguxiang reopened during the Spring Festival holiday after its two-month renovation project was completed. Nanluoguxiang is a popular alleyway located in central Beijing that is known for its traditional culture.
The upgrade of the 800-meter long narrow alley was initiated by shop owners rather than the city government. Work to complete it lasted from Oct. 28 to Dec. 28.
29-year-old Wei Ziyou visited Nangluoguxiang recently and said that the new-look alleyway has a clean and fresher feel to it, as there are fewer stores and fast-food stands.
"However, as a local resident, I still don't think there is enough traditional Beijing culture on display, despite a new cultural center being opened to the public at the south end of the alley," Wei added.
The cultural center is a nonprofit enterprise that displays and sells folk arts of different categories such as New Year pictures as well as sugarcoated and dough figurines.
The major reason for the renovation was due to the alley becoming primarily a food street instead of it being a hub of ancient Chinese cultural elements. This resulted in complaints from residents, shop owners, tourists and officials
Foreign visitors were originally attracted by small stores in Nanluoguxiang that offers local cuisines and crafts. However, more shops began to sell cheap, low-quality souvenirs and local restaurant selling traditional delicacies were replaced by stalls selling deep-fried chicken since visitor numbers increased in the area.
Xu Yan, the head of the shop owners' group that organized the renovation said: "The renovation was undertaken to revive the old alleyway. Stores selling cheap, low-quality goods had resulted in lower consumption, warning that if the situation continued unabated, there would be severe consequences. We had to make a change."
According to Xu, the total number of stores in Nanluoguxiang decreased from 235 to 154 after the renovation.