Hutongs are homes that have been in Chinese families for centuries. Lines of siheyuans, traditional courtyard residences were joined to one another to form hutong alleys that surround the Forbidden City and date back to the Yuan (1206-1341) Ming (1368-1628) and Qing (1644-1908). Because they occupy prime real estate, many hutongs are being demolished to make way for modern high-rise buildings but some hutongs are preserved for historical purposes and for tourism.