Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Wang, Mengjia (2015). Historical Layering and Historic Preservation in Relation to Urban Planning and Protecting Local Identity: City Study of Nanjing. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


After 1980s, the People’s Republic of China modernized rapidly, resulting in vast changes to the fabric of cities. At the same time, China developed more sophisticated urban planning practices and historic preservation regulation. In 1982, the government officially created the concept of “predominant historic and cultural city,” for cities that are considered to have very significant historic and cultural values. Cities with such distinctive and important identity should be protected as a whole, not only through preservation movements but through systematic urban planning processes. However, historic preservation and urban planning sometimes are often considered to be antithetical, and accommodating both preservation and planning in order to achieve the goal of protecting local identity has become a question demanding further examination.

This thesis looks specifically into the case of Nanjing. As a capital of six imperial dynasties throughout the history and a metropolitan city today, Nanjing was among the first to be listed as predominant historic and cultural cities in 1982, but it is also experiencing modernization accompanying with dramatic construction and destruction. By researching on the formation of different development phases, reading different types of historic layering, and comprehending the contemporary preservation and planning approaches, this thesis aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the urban evolution of Nanjing, and discover the possible ways to better connect historic preservation with urban planning, which could potentially be further applied to other cities.


Nanjing, historic preservation, urban planning, historic layering, local identity



Date Posted: 15 June 2015