Postcard: Beijing

After seven years of anticipation, residents come to terms with a city transformed. Inside China's capital on the eve of the Games

Ian Teh / Panos

Traditional neighborhoods are being demolished and rebuilt in time for the Games.

The sound of the Olympic games for me has always been John Williams' Olympic Fanfare and Theme. But since this spring those strains have been replaced by the clack and crumble of workmen with pickaxes leveling a wall outside my window at dawn.

In 2007 I moved into a quiet hutong, a traditional narrow lane lined with courtyard houses, in eastern Beijing. Since April, the city's Olympic buzz has reached deafening proportions. In a period of months, my district, laid out 700 years ago during the Ming dynasty, saw lanes repaved, streetlights installed, sewage lines overhauled, roofs repaired, doors painted, windows...

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