I visited the Forbidden City on this snowy day because I figured that it would not be especially crowded and that the snow would create interesting opportunities to photograph the buildings and interior spaces. I was wrong on both counts. Although it was probably a bit less crowded than usual, there were plenty of people visiting in spite of the snow. As for photo opportunities, by the end of 2006 Beijing’s Olympic facelift was well underway and, disappointingly, I found most of the major buildings within the Forbidden City shrouded in scaffolding for renovations. The day was nonetheless not a loss photographically. Among other subjects, I encountered this tour group of rather disgruntled looking people from somewhere in greater China.
Winter swimming in Houhai is a cold weather pastime for a (very) small group of Beijing men. I cannot recall what prevented this small area of open water along the north side of the lake from freezing over. But there was more than enough room for a dip and the winter swimmers wasted no time taking advantage of it. I do recall this was a very cold Beijing Christmas day with temperatures below 0°/32°. My hands were freezing holding the camera.
The four red characters in the yellow sign at the upper right mean, roughly, “reasonably prosperous life” or perhaps “moderately prosperous life”. Guaranteeing all Chinese a reasonably prosperous life is one of the Communist Party’s stated goals and the expression “小康生活” (xiaokang shenghuo) appears regularly in the Chinese media and Party publications. In any case, I think the expression nicely frames the Beijing street scene going on below the sign.
Boston City Hall opened to a lot of fanfare (and controversy) in 1968. A lot of people saw it as a dramatic symbol of a modern, new Boston. As I recall, that is how it looked to me when I moved to Boston in 1970. Almost 50 years later, the building sure has lost its luster. It looks ugly and out of place in Boston’s otherwise people friendly, rather intimate downtown. Brutalist Modern indeed. When I visited recently, a friend told me Boston is thinking about tearing the place down and building a new city hall, something more comfortable and on a more human scale. Good idea.