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Antique market faces demolition in Shanghai

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An antique market popular among foreigners in Shanghai will soon become history as the neighborhood it's based in is facing demolition.

The Shanghai Dongtai Road Antique market is home to over 150 stalls selling old furniture, posters, ancient currencies, arts and crafts. But now it faces demolition. 

A hidden gem in downtown. The Shanghai Dongtai Road Antique market is home to over 150 stalls selling old furniture, posters, ancient currencies, arts and crafts. It opened in the early 1980s when several residents began collecting old items and reselling them to antique dealers and collectors. It grew famous among foreign tourists looking for unusual Chinese souvenirs.

"It is part of the history and part of few places in Shanghai where you can really integrate with people. Even though lots of tourists come, it is not westernized for tourists. It still has the integrity of what it is to be China and Chinese," an American tourist named Julie Arslanian.

However, this neighborhood is now facing regeneration. Most of the buildings here date back to the 1920s and 1930s. The traditional Shikumen-style building may look attractive from outside, but its narrow space and the lack of modern facilities have made it really uncomfortable to live in.

"We don't have toilet here. There is no space for it and sewer. We need to use stinkpots here," said a Shanghai resident named Qi Rengu.

Several buildings in the street are being knocked down. It is just a matter of time for the remaining parts of the market.

When demolition takes place, this antique market will be gone and become history. For some people, it is a sentimental moment to say goodbye to their memories of old Shanghai. But for the residents here, that means a big improvement of their living environment.

Local authorities haven't given out the timetable of market closing. But stall owners have planned to either relocate or close down.

"No other antique markets will be as popular as here. I will close my stall and retire with this market," said a stall owner named Xu Hong.

"I'm happy for the people who live here, because they are getting new buildings, new houses. It is very nice to have your own bathroom, your own toilet...I think it is very important," said Karin Beukeboom, a Ductch antique dealer.

As city develops, improving residents' living standards and preserving city features is a dilemma in many cases. Many old neighborhoods will fade into history like this before there is a better solution.


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