On August 20th, Beijing put restrictions on factory production and car use. Five million cars were forced to drive on alternating days leading up to the 70th anniversary of Japan’s WWII defeat on September 3rd so that the city’s usually smoggy skies would be a picture-perfect blue.

The day after the parade, with the restrictions lifted, Beijing’s air quality index hit 160, a level at which “everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Military Parade Blue is gone; in its place is our ‘Normal Status Gray'” wrote one user online. While the LA Times cites several examples of such commentary on Chinese social media, CNN speculates that Chinese censors have actively removed similar posts from sites like Weibo.

(h/t: inhabitat, latimes, cnn)

5 million cars were forced to drive on alternating days in Beijing

Image credits:  Steven J.

The result is surprising – people could finally see buildings in the distance where there was usually thick smog

Image credits: Steven J.

During the ban, Beijing’s average levels of PM (particulate matter) dropped by 73.2% compared to the last year

Image credits:  Steven J.

40,000 construction sites in and around Beijing were also shut down for the duration

Image credits:  Steven J.

An international standard for measuring the severity of air pollution dipped to a pristine 17 out of 500, signifying very healthy air

Image credits:  Steven J.

This is how the Great Wall should look every day!

Image credits:  Steven J.

Image credits:  Steven J.