Beijing 2008: A Photographic Journey

All Grades, Arts & Literature, History, Society, Resource Collection
  • Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, is a stadium in Beijing, China


As early as 1906 an article about competitive sports in the magazine Tianjin Youth voiced Chinese aspirations to host the Olympics. The promotion of sports and physical fitness were an important part of China’s efforts to modernize and throw off the yoke of the past—one of Mao Zedong’s first published writings, for instance, was A Study of Physical Education (April 1917).

When China won the competition to host the 2008 games in July 2001, it occasioned a swell of patriotic enthusiasm that has yet to subside. Although preparations for the Olympics, especially transmission of the torch, have been questioned in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, many believe they symbolize hope for the future.

Perhaps this optimism is embodied in the many unique buildings erected in Beijing, the main venue for the games. Among them, the National Stadium(called the “Bird’s Nest”), theNational Aquatic Center (the “Water Cube”), the Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, China Central Television’s new headquarters, and the National Center for the Performing Arts (formerly called “The National Grand Theater”) have helped transform the city into a world-class global metropolis. For a brief period in summer 2008 Beijing will be the focus of world attention.

In more than sixty photos, Beijing 2008: A Photographic Journey, displays both the city’s past and its energetic present. The exhibition includes:

  • Beijing as imperial capital and its importance as a center of ritual and political life;
  • Comparisons of vintage photos from the 1930s with modern ones taken of the same sites. These include various neighborhoods and districts, parks, monuments, hutong (traditional residential lanes), and scenic areas;
  • The visionary structures built to house the 2008 Olympiad and other new additions to the city. This web-companion provides a brief introduction to some of Beijing’s important architectural sites and historically contextualizes their significance.

Links to additional web resources are provided so that readers can learn more about one of the world’s most important cities.

Resource Type: Resource Collections
Caterogy: All Grades, Arts & Literature, History, Society, Resource Collection


Teach China Team

Teach China is a comprehensive professional development program offered by China Institute to provide a wealth of opportunities for K-12 educators to enhance their knowledge of China, past and present. We take an interdisciplinary approach consistent with national and state-mandated standards in order to help educators incorporate the teaching of China into all subjects and grade levels, including Mandarin language learning, the humanities, social studies, and the arts. Teach China promotes cross-cultural understanding through the use and creation of authentic materials, the presentation of balanced perspectives, and the fostering of enduring connections between educators around the world.