Tianducheng, a suburb of the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, was built about 15 years ago at the beginning of that country’s epic real estate boom, when housing prices were rising by more than 13 percent a year. Between 2003 and 2014, developers built 100 billion square feet of residential real estate. There was a buyer for everything, including a development in Tianducheng dubbed “the Paris of the East” -- 164 acres of French-inspired architecture, all centered around a one-third scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Pardon their French:
- The Chinese fondness for what has been called “duplitecture” didn’t stop there. There are copycat cities for every travel fantasy, including London, Venice, and, more surprisingly, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
- Now that the real estate frenzy has passed, Tianducheng and some of China's other faux cities are becoming ghost towns. "I live here because it's cheap,” said one of the suburb’s few residents.
- Many apartments in Tianducheng are empty, and few stores are open for business. The "duplitecture" cities are often used as a destination for engagement and wedding photos, though.