I must say I was a bit hopeless for Hangzhou in terms of abandoned places because of the rapidity of urban development and of the high ambitions of becoming a first-class city in China (unfortunately this brings almost only negative transformations). But I also realized that, until recently (and it’s still going on in some parts of the city), Hangzhou had an industry-based economic development.
One day, as I was going to the ruins of a temple, I took a bus right through Hangzhou’s very own steel mill, it did not seem to produce anything anymore. I jumped out of the bus right away and visited this industrial area instead of a temple.
In turns out that this huge factory had stopped production last year, just six months ago1. Hangzhou Iron and Steel Group Company (杭州钢铁集团公司) was founded in 1957 and was quite a large company with more than 16,000 employees and workers on different sub-units and factories. With the help of modernization of production, in 2003, steel production became even more efficient. Since the end of October 2015, Hangzhou Steel Group has stopped producing iron and steel in order to improve the city’s air quality (heavy pollution came from the steel plant’s coal consumption and gaz emissions).
After that discovery, I thought that Hangzhou was in fact not that bad. Even if this was nothing compared to Shougang (by the way, my reports about Shougang are here and here), there was a really beautiful architecture and the weather in Hangzhou makes the space of factories look more « green » than in Beijing. The production area is really large, it has got internal roads of production with propaganda messages all along.
I went by a lot of offices and warehouses that I did not have time to visit (yet). On that day, I went directly for the blast furnace area, those are always the ultimate fascinating element in an abandoned factory.
Maybe it was not the best idea as there were video cameras everywhere and people soon told me to take a quick look around but without allowing me to use my camera so here are the few pictures I could still manage to take in secret. I will come back to make better ones and explore inside the factory buildings but for a first time, this was a good visit.
Hangzhou, you are not as boring as I thought, see you again next time.