July 1, 2000
Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
This is a case study of Suzhou, China, an ancient city of over two thousand years that upgraded itself during the 1990s from a medium-sized city to fifth in China, ranked according to GDP. At the beginning of the decade, the city faced a macroeconomic contraction in the nation, a questionable or unsustainable local economic development model, an enormous task of preserving historical sites, and the pressure of improving the living standards of its residents, which included changing their meager housing conditions. This paper provides insight into the municipal strategy of integration with the global economy through strategic city planning that in the end promoted rapid economic development, preserved most of the "old" city while building two new industrial districts, and substantially improved housing conditions for residents.
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