New life infused into Beijing's past

By XIN WEN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-07-10 07:18
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Old-brand cigarettes at the center. WANG JING/CHINA DAILY

Among the most prominent buildings was a high-rise known as the New World amusement park. It housed a variety of entertainment and cultural venues, including cinemas, ballrooms, tea houses, libraries, restaurants and boutiques.

Modeled on Shanghai Great World, the towering structure resembled a grand oceangoing liner. It was constructed from different-colored bricks, fitted with medieval European adornments, and boasted a seven-story spire. There was also a modern elevator, a fountain and pool in the lobby atrium, and a flower shop.

After it opened on Feb 11, 1918, the venue became a popular attraction in southern Beijing, drawing visitors with its diverse array of performers, including magicians, clowns and acrobats.

At the time, Xiangchang New District, home to the New World building, was a bustling area dubbed one of Beijing's wealthiest neighborhoods.

The city's first rooftop garden, cinema showing foreign movies, traffic police box and taxi rental company were all established in the area.

On the evening of June 11, 1919, Chen Duxiu, one of the key founders of the Communist Party of China, handed out leaflets from the New World building's rooftop garden, announcing the draft "Manifesto of the Citizens of Peking".

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