Fallen City

PBS Premiere: July 28, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

Interactive Map: The Old and New Cities of Beichuan

Explore and compare the old Chinese city of Beichuan, ruined in 2008 by a devastating earthquake, and the new city built 15 miles away just two years later, as seen in Fallen City. Zoom in to see the Google Maps imagery of the destroyed city and important places in the lives of Fallen City's subjects. Zoom out to view other nearby cities and landmarks.

View Fallen City: The Old and New Cities of Beichuan in a larger map

  • Click and drag to adjust the map.
  • Zoom out to view other nearby cities and landmarks.
  • Want to start over? Reset the map.


Old Beichuan
Approximate location: 31.826° N, 104.451° E
Population: Approx. 21,000 (before earthquake)

On May 12, 2008, Beichuan, the county-seat in China's Sichuan province, was hit by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, the strongest in China since 1950. Throughout the region, nearly 90,000 people were listed as dead or missing and an estimated 10 million were left without shelter. In Beichuan alone, half of the residents died. Thousands of these casualties were children, and many claim this was due to faulty construction in school buildings.

In June, the aftermath of the earthquake caused a landslide in the city, flooding several communities. $137.5 billion was spent rebuilding the affected areas, making it the second costliest earthquake since 1900.

Due to its dangerous position on a fault line, the city was abandoned as the county seat and now is open to tourists as a memorial and museum.

View photos of the Old Beichuan museum »

New Beichuan
Approximate location: 31.617° N, 104.469° E
Settled in: 2010

One month after the earthquake, construction of a new city 15 miles south of the original one began with an investment of nearly 10 billion yuan. The new city, also known as Yongchang town (meaning "eternal prosperity"), boasts hospitals, roads, parks and housing for more than 40,000 residents.

City planners expressed a desire to preserve the local Qiang culture of the old city. On the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, of 2010, residents celebrated the opening of new Beichuan.

View photos of the old and new cities of Beichuan in 2013, five years after the earthquake »