Thousands of people come to see the old Bell Tower Street, which was reopened on Sept 19 after an 18-month renovation project. [Photo by Mi Guowei for China Daily]
When he prepared for the Mid-Autumn Festival on the evening of Sept 19, Zhao Yun, a senior resident in Taiyuan's Cayuanhou community, heard a bell ringing from his neighborhood.
The old man immediately recognized that the sound was from the Bell Tower, a place he was familiar with in his childhood but had disappeared from his life for several decades.
The bell-ringing also reminded him of other sounds unique to the area called Bell Tower Street from his childhood: the sound of rain hitting the cobblestones on the street and the hawking of vendors.
"Yes, everything in my memory is coming back," he told his neighbors, when hearing news that the old street will be reopened on Sept 19 after a renovation lasting about 18 months.
In the past, the towers of bell and drum were standard to many cities in China. And the areas near the two towers were usually booming business districts of the cities.
This was also the case in Taiyuan. But the Bell Tower was gone by the late 1930s and many ancient structures were destroyed in the years that followed.
To better preserve Taiyuan's historical streets and ancient structures, the city launched a restoration project for the Bell Street and its neighboring areas in April 2020.
According to Pu Jing, president of Taiyuan Architecture Design Institute, the restoration project, covering an area of 16 hectares, was implemented on the principle of "restoring old-time memories and inheriting historical cultures".
In addition to the rebuilding of the Bell Tower, a total of 32 old buildings were restored to their original appearances.
"The main characteristic of the ancient streets is a feature unique to the Republic of China period (1912-49), which gives people a nostalgic retrospective to their childhood," Pu said. "But structures in the later times still remain to reflect the evolution of history."
Bell Tower Street is not only a touring site, but also a venue for commercial development, especially for time-honored brands.
Kaiming Photo Studio, for instance, is a century-old firm in the area. It recently moved back to its original site.
The reopening of its studio attracted a great number of customers, who were waiting in front of the gate to take photos just as they or their parents did in past times.
Shi Hui contributed to this story.