“Lane houses” are narrow buildings, usually around three floors high, often organized in rows on little lanes too narrow to accommodate cars.
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The narrowness of these lanes allows for a calm amidst the chaos of the city.
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Many families live their whole lives in their home, raising families and supporting the elderly in turn.
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A man reads an official eviction/relocation notice posted on a community wall in his neighborhood.
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Despite being amongst buildings being prepped for demolition, business carries on at this corner shop, as best it can, while it can.
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Lane houses are cleared out and boarded up, seemingly overnight.
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Before knocking down exterior walls and plowing the homes, interiors are hollowed out.
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Only a skeleton of the homes that were there remains as they tear down the lane houses, bit by bit.
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Parts are salvaged, such as doors, windows, and even tiles and brick.
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Out with the old and in with the new, a construction worker helps to bring down a brick exterior wall, clearing the land for the next high rise or mall.
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Amongst the rubble are eery tokens of the families that once lived there, left behind in the relocation.
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Leaving only a skeleton, the homes are primed and ready for the final steps of demolition.
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Communities live on, as these women continue their social sewing, piled much like the rubble atop a straggling sofa.
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The demolition continues, working it’s way through the neighborhood. A graffiti artist has left his or her mark with this eerie image, soon to be added to the rubble it oversees.
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Some community members hold on to the last bit of “home” that they have. Whether here or in their new modern apartment, they all still have to take out the garbage and time moves on.
There is a price paid to have a booming metropolis such as Shanghai, China - urban sprawl. Lane houses are being torn down to make room for the next big mall or modern high rise. A traditional “lane house” lends itself to community - neighbors often share a kitchen and common space, wet markets are set up on doorsteps and curb sides, and mahjong is played under awnings as players bring their stools to join in. From gossip to groceries, these are true communities and everyone knows everyone. The eviction of families and demolition of homes seems to occur overnight, relocating families to update homes in high rise buildings, often in a different part of the city entirely. While some families may be eager for a new modern apartment, others may be parting ways with neighbors and friends that they have had for much of their life.