The Big Picture

Shanghai’s nail neighborhood

In a corner of Shanghai, surrounded by a cement wall, lies one of the world’s most valuable fields of debris and garbage. On paper, the Guangfuli neighborhood is a real estate investor’s dream: a plot in the middle of one of the world’s most expensive and fast-rising property markets. But the reality is more like a developer’s nightmare, thanks to hundreds of people living there who have refused to budge from their ramshackle homes for nearly 16 years as the local authority sought to clear the land for new construction.--By Reuters
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Li Guoqiang talks on his phone outside his house at Guangfuli neighborhood, in Shanghai, China, April 1. Li, 38, is a deliveryman who rents a place at Guangfuli. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A view of old houses surrounded by new apartment buildings in Guangfuli neighborhood in Shanghai, China, April 8. Small houses stand in the midst of freeways, pedestrian malls, and are perched on concrete islands in the middle of pits excavated for underground parking lots. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A boy rides a tricycle in between semi demolished houses in Guangfuli neighborhood, in Shanghai, China, March 28. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man shaves on the second floor of an old house in Guangfuli neighborhood in Shanghai, China, April 1. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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Tao Weiren sits in front of his two-story house in Guangfuli neighborhood. Widespread dissatisfaction with the compensation offered by local governments led to protests by residents and engendered the “nail house” phenomenon: residents who refuse to accept the buyout offer and stay put, boarding up their homes to fend off attempts to remove them. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man surnamed Xu, 50, walks past a house carrying the Chinese character “Chai”, meaning “demolition,” although the paint has faded as the standoff between the residents and the developer drags on. Xu’s whole family used to live under the same roof together in Guangfuli. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man surnamed Zeng sits on his bed, in the Guangfuli neighborhood, April 18. Zeng, 89, lives alone and keeps all his belongings within reach on his bed as he has difficulty walking. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A sign board for a public toilet is seen attached to an electric pole in the Guangfuli neighborhood, March 28. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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Woman surnamed Xu watches TV at her eight-square-meter house where she lives with her husband at Guangfuli neighborhood. Residents experience extreme temperatures in their homes since many lack windows with glass and the walls are perforated with holes. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man surnamed Xu, 50, holds a family portrait, at his place in the Guangfuli neighborhood, April 8. Xu’s whole family used to live under the same roof together in Guangfuli. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A dog runs on the remains of old houses covered with a green netting in the Guangfuli neighborhood, April 18. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A vendor selling pork takes a nap at a half-demolished house in the Guangfuli neighborhood, March 24. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man sits in an alley in Guangfuli neighborhood, March 24. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A woman surnamed Li stands inside the house she shares with her husband as pictures of her mother-in-law and father-in-law are seen on the wall, April 8. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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Electric wires hang above a demolished old house at Guangfuli neighborhood, in April 19. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A man walks between houses at Guangfuli neighborhood in Shanghai, China, April 19. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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Women chat inside a store in Guangfuli neighborhood in Shanghai, China, April 1. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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An old house is seen in front of new apartment buildings in Guangfuli neighborhood, April 18. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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Yueyue is held by her grandfather in an empty area outside their house at Guangfuli neighborhood, in Shanghai, China, April 1. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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A woman smokes as she starts her electric bike at Guangfuli neighborhood in Shanghai, China, March 28. (Aly Song/Reuters)
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