Earth & Conservation

The 'Fake' Cities of China

China has towns that were designed to be replicas of Paris, London and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

<p>Photo: ThinkStock </p>

China is home to many great cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. It's also home to many replicas of other great cities around the world like Paris, London and even Jackson Hole Wyoming, according to ABC News.

In the early 1990s, China's economy began to take off. People that were now making a lot of money wanted new houses to go along with their new status. They began duplicating architecture from around the world, a phenomenon known as "duplitecture." Specifically, many people wanted to emulate the architecture of countries with a history of wealth and influence.

In the city of Hangzhou, in eastern China, there is a replica of the Eiffel Tower that is one-third the height of the real one in Paris. In fact, the entire development in this neighborhood, Tianducheng, or "Sky Capital City," is modeled to look like the French capital. But the streets, apartments and businesses in Tianducheng are not like Paris at all. They are eerily quiet, due to the fact that hardly anyone lives there.

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One resident, Rachel Ni, says she lives in Tianducheng because it's cheap and a good place to raise her baby, but she doesn't like the fake Eiffel Tower. She told ABC News "No people will think it's cool, no people. And some people, I think, want this removed. It's fake. It's not the true [one]."

Outside of Beijing, there's a town that was designed to look just like Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It has cowboys, churches and even a Route 66 (although the real Route 66 doesn't go through the real Jackson Hole). Homes here have actually sold fairly well, with some homes going for as much as $2 million. Although this has a lot more to do with the fact that the town is only 1.5 hours from Beijing, and less to do with the western-themed decor.

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There's also a Shanghai suburb called Thames Town, modeled to look like London. They have the famous red phone booths, security guards dressed in British uniforms, and even a Happy Potter statue. However, Thames Town is similar to Tianducheng in that hardly anyone actually lives here. In the past, the Chinese government has assumed that if they build housing people are guaranteed to buy or rent it, but that's simply not the case, particularly in these "duplitecture" towns.

Bianca Bosker, author of Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in China, told ABC News, "There is not an endless appetite and insatiable demand for more and more housing, apartments and so forth... [the] idea of 'build it and they will come' that they have been able to rely on is no longer perhaps going to stay true."

Top Photo: Hangzhou Tianducheng park building, exhibiting France style architecture.