In 2012, a project proposed by local authorities aimed to revitalise, after a century of interruption, the use of Beijing’s Bell and Drum Towers and the social traditions associated with them. As a result, more than 100 households living in 66 traditional courtyards were to be relocated. Based on ethnographical fieldwork, our research reveals three main groups of stakeholders. Their claims reflected three distinct temporalities. The local government defined that the heyday of the area was about 400 years ago based on a map drawn in the imperial period. The active preservationists were concentrated on the present, but also on the past which has value to be preserved, and the locals were largely concerned about their future. These three stakeholders’ positions will illustrate different forms of emotional attachments to historic urban places.