Monolithic shopping malls face each other across this prestigious avenue thronged with mostly out-of-town tourists. The late-20th-century Chinese architecture is looking worn out these days (despite some local tour companies who rather hopefully dub Wangfujing Street 'Beijing's Champs-Elysées'), but developments such as WF Central are adding a welcome touch of glamour.
The jing in Wangfujing refers to a well or water source around which several princely mansions (wangfu) were established during the Qing dynasty. The street was renamed People's Rd (Renmin Lu) briefly during the Cultural Revolution. Several decades earlier, it was known among foreign residents as Morrison St, after George Ernest Morrison, an Australian journalist with the Times of London, who became political adviser to the president of the Chinese Republic in 1912. He had a residence and library behind the street, which was demolished in 2007.