Datong–A Tough Industrial City

Although Datong is a very old city and was a dynastic capital of China two different times, it is now dominated by coal mining and power production.  It is not a charming city as a whole, but it is interesting as an example of an “ordinary” Chinese city.  There is a transformation happening that is common across the country where cities are tearing out their old city fabric and replacing it with more modern buildings.  The new architecture is not good, but it is providing much needed decent housing and work places.

Old fabric of single story courtyard houses. At ground level this is a dismal place to live.

Neighborhood undergoing transformation.

New city fabric in Datong

Even in these bland new parts of the city there is a vibrant life. This is a "fast food" joint.

There is a big open central square full of all ages of people--but especially a lot of little kids.

A real treasure of Datong from 700 years ago is the 9 Dragon Screen.

It is 150 feet long and made of glazed tiles.


The countryside outside Datong is dotted with compact farming towns.

Thinking about Cultural Identity
Posted August 14, 2010