Ancient city walls are typical linear space elements of Beijing that represent the transformation of urban form over the past 800 years and have greatly influenced the memory of the entire city. However, recently, most of the walls have been torn down in the process of fast urbanization and old city renewal. The purpose of this paper is to focus on people’s cognition and evaluation of urban memory during this pull-down-and-preserve process.
A sample of 380 participants was investigated on a number of issues using questionnaires, including memory case reminders (stability, variability, temporality), emotional bonding with memory case (identity, dependence, authenticity), and socio-demographic variables (age, education, life experience, length of residence). The urban memory cognition model and attitude evaluation value model which were based on Likert scale were used to process the collected data.
In the three aspects of memory case reminders, stability and temporary elements can be most cognized, whereas variability elements are more difficult due to their change over time. As for emotional bonding with memory case, people show a high level of identification with the walls; the walls’ memory being passed down could enhance people’s memory when mentioning Beijing. Further, higher education groups consider the walls’ authenticity to be most important and are unwilling to accept the outcome of walls-ruins parks; older adults have tolerant attitudes to the ruins parks.
This study could not only contribute to the excavation of urban memory, but also strengthen citizens’ sense of identity and cohesiveness, thus shaping the spirit and culture of the city. Some findings could provide applicable guidelines for urban heritage protection and contribute a new perspective on the interrelationship between people and their physical surroundings.
© International Tourism Studies Association
Wang, F., Peng, Y., Wang, H.C. and Yin, F. (2016), "Old walls, modern city: research on urban memory of disappearing ancient Beijing city walls", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 29-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-11-2015-0029Download as .RIS
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