Yanjiao is one of these cities and is only 20 miles east of central Beijing. Like many of the capital’s neighbors it was a small village but its population has now swelled to over 750,000. I photographed new apartment complexes going up, one consisting of over a dozen buildings at 34 floors each. I met Zhang Shuying who spent the first 60 years of her life on a small farm, typical of the region. Now she lives in a 25-story tower built on the exact spot where her family grew grapes.
In the nearby countryside, agricultural workers tend to grape vines in the shadow of the oncoming urban development and residents escape the urban chaos in the bed of the Chaobai River. Further south, in Jing Jin City, a name that is a combination of Beijing and Tianjin, gardeners rake a manicured garden filled with Romanesque statues outside a hotel that, at least for now, sees few guests. The plan includes a new ring road, the capital’s seventh, currently under construction. Parts of the road are in an adjacent province over 100 miles away from the city center.