Out with the Old: The Destruction of Historical Buildings
I've seen it before. Singapore. UAE. Japan. Los Angeles.
Alright, LA has no history to speak of and nothing historical exists there except for the La Brea Tar Pits. But, that's prehistory so I guess that doesn't count.
There's a fine balance between preserving the past and making way for the future. All city planners are faced with these hard decisions. Since Riyadh doesn't have city planning, that saves a step in the process. As a consequence, Old Riyadh is disappearing rapidly as land is developed for the new, modern buildings being constructed here. The new land rush and building boom will be the topic for my next post.
On my first trip to Old Riyadh to visit the souks and the old fort, I expected to see more old buildings preserved in and around Chop Chop Square. These mud brick buildings were constructed in the same manner as the old adobes in Mexico, New Mexico, Texas, and elsewhere. What I saw instead was the systematic destruction of the old homes and buildings. I took a few pictures on the way out and planned another visit a couple of weeks later.
Driving out of the Old Riyadh area, we passed this scene. I had our driver, Naseem, pull over for me to get out and investigate further. I walked past this street-side demolition and entered a square surrounded by the old mud brick apartment buildings. They all were abandoned and awaiting their turn with the wrecking ball.
Exploring another area of the old city, I saw other old buildings in the process of being demolished. Winding through the back alleys and streets, I snapped some additional photos of these buildings, probably days away from being gone forever.
I suppose if you were forced to live in these old structures, you'd be glad to be evicted and sent to live in a newly constructed apartment building with all the modern conveniences. Who wouldn't? But I would have thought that the city would have taken into consideration the preservation of its old history and salvaged what they could. That doesn't seem to be the case here. My next post will address what's going on today in the rebuilding of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia.