Xidan is a famous traditional commercial area in Beijing. The name Xidan came from the paifang that existed on one of the streets there. In this context, the name "Xidan" refers to the single paifang that existed on the west side of the city. The paifang was recently rebuilt, and now stands at the Xidan Culture Square.
The Xidan commercial district occupies around 80 hectares, incorporates the Xidan Culture Square, North Xidan Street, as well as many supermarkets and department stores. The Xidan Cultural Square is the largest venue for cultural events in downtown Beijing.
The Xidan area began to experience massive growth in the 1950s, as the population of Beijing began to move westwards. By the 1970s, Xidan, along with Qianmen and Wangfujing, became the three major commercial areas in Beijing. Currently, the area renown through Beijing as a shopping area. Many malls and department stores have stores within the area, the oldest of which is the China branch of the Taiwanese department store Chungyo.
The Chinese Government has targeted Xidan in its 11th Five Year Plan, which is scheduled to conclude by 2010, with a stated mission of improving the area's environment, as well as diversifying the genre of stores that open in the area. Portions of the plan were already completed in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games.