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The change of the city

Cathy Zhou's picture

I had a very vague impression about my city when I was younger. I spent most of my time in the neighborhood area with my peers, and my whole world was around those little corners: the grassland in front of our apartment, a little candy shop across the street, grandpa’s bike, and little toys got from KFC. When the holiday came up, my parents would take me downtown, for a good restaurant, a reward from the mall’s showcase, or a crowded festival that could fill a child’s eyes with happiness.

Then I turned five, my family decided to send me to an elementary school downtown, where I got closer to “the city”.

That time the city is a small city, a place known for spicy food, beautiful weather, old museums and tea houses. Cars are not widely affordable; people wander from streets to streets, if getting tired, they would stop by a tea house and have a rest.  Sometimes I would peep from my classroom on 3rd floor, where I see a glance of “city”. The center of the city locates two blocks away from my school, which is a square surrounded by a sports center and a few shopping centers, crowded with people from inside and outside. Everyone looks forth to their destination, with a either desperate or hopeful anticipation, and therefore moves along. The old buildings, the tea houses, and the sparkling traffic lights filled my 6 years.

And it changes rapidly as the time passes.

The city suddenly has a large number of engineering programs running on at the same time, buildings came up from the base, and the little houses full of memories were replaced by these brand-new big concrete giants. When I looked at my city again, I gained a feeling from my sight view: it’s a different era.

A city is like a person---- you can see the trace of time on the surface of it: the changing of the environment, everything going on around him would have impact on him somehow. You can find out the history of the place by looking at the old pictures posted on the new walls, you can find out the vestige of removal, and the sign of changing in here.

I still hear my grandma talking about old times in the city: the school was in the 50’s architect style, they were the very first college students in China, they use tickets to get daily supply from the government, people look at the chairman as the god of their lives... That was a different---but the same city of mine. We have the river across the center city, we go to the park for picnic, and the same school still sits there in a whole different appearance.

My home now has a museum behind the gate, which shows the city life here 3000 years ago. That was the very beginning of city civilization here, where the citizens have hierarchy, a entirely different religion, the beginning of agriculture and even sculpture.

Unlike Mumford’s whole ”the city is a stage” statement, my city isn’t like a platform for performances and dramas, it’s more like an old man, who has been through centuries, seen the pass and gone of men on this field, everything went on here, and meanwhile, involves himself in the daily scenarios.

Like how my grandma would talk about her 20s, it you give the city a chance, he would probably pick a favorite time of himself: it might be the palaces and ceremonies 3000 years ago, or the teatime and normal chatting of 90s, or even yesterday----how the people get up and go to work on a normal Friday. Things have changed, but you’ll never know what is for the best in a city. Millions of different moments came up and made our city somewhat different from other cities, and it is the one you love, the one with many faces and you actually see yourself in it.