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A Walk Through Beijing's Vanishing Hutongs

Michael Meyer has a local peddler fix his shoe in DaZhalan, a 600-year-old neighborhood in Beijing.
Frank Langfitt/NPR
Michael Meyer has a local peddler fix his shoe in DaZhalan, a 600-year-old neighborhood in Beijing.

Beijing is a city of contrasts: It has dazzling Olympic venues as well as the ancient city, a maze of homes and alleys, called hutongs, that are rapidly being demolished to make way for high-rise development.

Michael Meyer, 36, is a former Peace Corps volunteer. He lived in Beijing for years, but says he felt detached from the city. He then moved to a hutong and finagled a job as a teacher in a local, hutong school.

Out of that experience came his book, The Last Days of Old Beijing.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.