The Old Street’s Narrow Escape

2018-11-01
With flagstone walkways, bright memorial archways, and time-honored stores, Hefang Street is an attractive venue that can be traced back to a very long time ago. Located at the foot of Wu Hill, Hefang Street is one of the busiest streets that attracts more than 30 million visitors every year. The upkeep and preservation of this old street is not without a hitch but is meticulously maintained thanks to all the efforts made by both the government and civilians.

Hefang Street in 1990s

The protection of Hefang Street is the best example of historical block protection work and has initiated Hangzhou’s history of protecting historical cultural relics.
However, 19 years ago, Hefang Street was confronted with a fatal test. During the 1990s, the action of “dismantling the old” was sweeping around the whole country and Hefang Street, as a street with a long history, was on the list to be dismantled.

Fortunately, in the chaos of reconstruction a voice of reason was heard. It was in April 8, 1999 that Huang Xiaohang, the deputy editor-in-chief of a local newspaper office, wrote to Hangzhou’s high officials, calling an immediate stop of the dismantling. He said: “the value of historical relics lies in their origins and once destroyed, it will be a forever loss. What we need to do is to protect them.”

The letter made waves in government, and together with the support of Hangzhou locals, the dismantling action was brought to a halt.

Restoration work initiated a new beginning of the old street

After the government had decided to stop the demolition work, for the sake of keeping real history, a series of actions to protect the street were put in place immediately.

On-the-basis of its region, history and the development trend, the Hefang historical block was defied as a combination of a traditional commercial center, tourist region, local gathering place for foodies as well as a medicine culture center. At present, Hefang Street owns 28 time-honored stores and 25 historical buildings, filling the whole street with an air of ancient charm.