Nanluoguxiang, a popular alleyway in central Beijing, reopened after the completion of a 2-month renovation project, which lasted from Oct to Dec, 2016.
The major reason for the renovation was that the alley, which was previously an old area of ancient Chinese cultural elements, had become primarily a food street. Originally, tourists, particularly foreign visitors, were attracted by Nanluoguxiang's small stores offering local crafts and cuisines. However, as visitor numbers increased, more shops began to sell cheap, low-quality souvenirs, while local restaurants selling traditional delicacies were replaced by stalls selling deep-fried chicken.
Work to complete the upgrade of the 800-meter-long narrow alley, which was initiated by shop owners rather than the city government. After renovation, the total number of stores in the alley has been reduced from 235 to 154.
Kenson Kuang, a graphic designer and musician from the United States who has lived in Beijing for three years, said Nanluoguxiang is often too crowded for it to be enjoyable. "It's hard to keep track of what's good in Nanluoguxiang, because there are so many tourist-oriented shops there. It doesn't really cater to my taste," he said, adding that many of his foreign friends also believe it had become a mere tourist trap.