I lived in a compound from my childhood, and the compound locates in an alley (hutong). Hutongs represent an important character of Old Beijing. They are alleys formed by lines of quadrangle dwellings (siheyuans) which are traditional residence courtyard. The width of one Hutong is normally around 9 meters. With the development of the city and real estate business, there are fewer and fewer hutongs left in Beijing. They were replaced by skyscrapers and apartment communities. Although I didn't live in the compound during the epidemic crisis, I received a notice recently from the property management which asked me to go to our community service center to apply for a new access card. I need to take one-inch photo, Household Register and my ID card as reference information. Therefore, I went out yesterday and experienced how the epidemic prevention was adopted at hutongs.
Each hutong entrance is managed by 3-4 persons including security guards. A manual retractable door was installed at the hutong entrance. To prevent the bad weather, a temporary tent was built for the staff to use. Each hutong only allows people living or working in this area to enter and exit with a permit. Visitors must register. Vehicles of residents or companies registered in the hutong can drive in. Everyone must take a temperature before entering it. It's May already. The requirements are still very strict. The length of the hutongs here are about 700-800 meters. I didn't go to the other end of the hutong. I believe its management is same. As a result, all residents living along the alley became a large community.
There are not many hutongs left in the city. To keep the hutongs is to protect the styles and features of old Beijing. On the other hand, the cost of house demolition has become unaffordable high. Therefore, many old siheyuan in hutongs have been uniformly renovated and the infrastructure has been improved. I like the current style, without losing the characteristics of hutong and siheyuan, and injecting some new elements at the same time.
I was impressed when I came to the community service center. I have not been there before. It is a small courtyard with a big gate and classic gray brick walls, traditional tube tiles and plate tiles over the wall. The door’s red color looked to me a bit too bright although it is still rejoicing. It is particularly inspiring in the cloudy day. It's a pity that the gate piers and screen wall are missing.
The staff of the neighborhood committee were very patient and considerate. I asked them why we need to update the access pass under the pandemic situation is getting better and when we don’t need it. They said that we may need it for very long time, at least during the coming national congress annual sessions. I am glad that they continue to manage the community closely to prevent the virus spreading. Not only virus, thieves cannot come in easily either. After coming out of the service center, I found that the opposite yard is an international kindergarten. This hutong has changed a lot!
胡同口检查出入证 (Checking the pass at the entrance of hutong)
公寓社区门口检查出入证 (Checking the pass at the entrance of an apartment community)
参考文章 Reference webpages