NPR logo The Billboard Has Risen

The Billboard Has Risen

An update to my earlier post about the super-sized billboards outside what will become the new city of Beichuan. When I was there last Tuesday, I saw gigantic poles set into the ground, one batch on each side of the road leading to the work site. Today when we drove by - one week later - lo and behold, the billboards were up, promising a bright, shining new city.

A vision of the future. Melissa Block/NPR hide caption

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Melissa Block/NPR

This one shows an artists's rendition of the new Beichuan, with a stone tower typical of ethnic Qiang villages, wide boulevards and people gathered on a plaza. It bears this message: "We must firmly remember the mission that the General Secretary has entrusted to us: We must definitely do a good job of rebuilding Beichuan."

The General Secretary refers to President Hu Jintao, and the second part of that message is a quote from him, which unfortunately was rather pallid and bland. The second (equally gigantic) billboard across the way shows clusters of new apartment buildings that wouldn't look out of place in any planned community in the U.S., with a stream running by.

Will the new city bear any resemblance to the artists' drawings? I'll have to come back at the end of 2010 to find out. That's how quickly city planners say the new Beichuan will be built, with homes for 30,000 people.