How did "Old Beijing" get old?

2020-08-28 | Elephant Guild Original |

In the early 1980s, China, after leaving the Cultural Revolution, no longer regarded the old things and customs as the remnants of the old society of all evils. Amid the craze of nostalgia, the familiar "Old Beijing" today quickly became a fascinating topic.

Since then, every district in Beijing City has compiled its own history and launched its own brand-name commercial districts and tourist attractions.

· The old Beijing setting in the movie "The Evil Does Not Suppress the Righteousness"

Almost all Beijing snacks can be traced back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and they are always associated with the court and the emperor. They have either tasted it in Jiajing or liked it by Qianlong. Literature and film and television works about "Old Beijing" are constantly emerging and benefit fromThe status of the capital and cultural center continues to be projected across the country.

However, this "old Beijing" image is actually not that far away, only about a hundred years ago.

The abandoned old Beijing

Since the Yuan Dynasty was established as the capital of Beijing, to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Beijing has been the capital of the empire for more than 700 years.

Imperial Power shaped the city. The eight-kilometer north-south central axis runs through the city. The commanding height and the center of the central axis are located on Jingshan in Ouchi. It is the royal visual privilege to overlook the city.

The tall city wall closely guards all the imperial palaces, and ordinary residents are completely isolated. In the eyes of these civilians who consume old Beijing snacks, the Forbidden City only represents a few high walls, and the things inside do not belong to the same

The civilian life outside the Qianmen just recently encountered the Gengzi War. A large number of shops and houses were destroyed, so that more than 20 years later, when Zhou Zuoren saw the shop "Zhang Xugao's Single Wooden Signboard" south of the Xisi Archway,I would regard it as the "old shop before the Boxer Rebellion" and be fascinated.

· The Eight-Power Allied Forces in front of Tiananmen Square

In 1912, the Republic of China was established, and the life of the imperial capital under the high pressure of the imperial city became the object of rejection of the spirit of the new era.

In the public opinion at the beginning of the Republic of China, Beijing's imperial capital was too strong, and the old urban management and spatial organization system could no longer meet the needs of modern civilization.

In the first year of the Republic of China, the "Grand Liberty" stated that the capital of a country needs three important conditions: convenient transportation; wide and clean roads; brilliant and orderly buildings. Beijing has none.

At that time, the traffic pattern in Beijing was very different from that of today. Not only was the square in front of the palace gate a forbidden area, causing the east and west Chang'an Avenue to not be connected; and the two streets each only went from the imperial wall to the east and west. Today, the subway is only one or two stations, And all the way forward is the Hutong area, and the end of the forced walk will be blocked by the city wall-later Jianguomen and Fuxingmen were the gaps opened by the Japanese occupiers in the city wall in the late 1930s.

· Tiananmen Square and Chang'an Right Gate to the east in 1901

With the huge imperial city sitting on the central axis, Beijing’s north-south traffic is naturally impossible to be transparent. Pedestrians can only go around the city walls and gates at all levels in a way similar to the loop, and arrive at ZhengyangmenSuch a narrow doorway and a newly-built transportation hub with a railway station recently will even encounter desperate congestion.

The political elites of the Republic of China are eager to turn this kind of Beijing into a modern city. Paris, New York, Berlin and London have all become Beijing models.

In 1914, a new type of municipal organization, the Kyoto Municipal Office, was established. The municipal policy is to promote the modern transformation of the city and transform the city of Beijing that originally served the emperor to serve the citizens and meet the requirements of a modern democratic society.

A series of shabby and new, then began.

The first to bear the brunt is the city wall of Beijing. The towering city wall of Beijing was once a symbol of imperial power. In the Qing Dynasty, demolishing the city wall was more or less a taboo, and only foreigners in the Gengzi reign dared to do it.The city wall has naturally stepped aside.

In 1915, the construction of a railway around Beijing was completed. It connects Xizhimen, Deshengmen, Andingmen, Dongzhimen, Chaoyangmen and Zhengyangmen, and connects to the Jingfeng line at Dongbianmen. All cities involved in this projectThe door, the urn city attached to it was either torn down, or a new door was opened, and the connection between the city gate and the arrow tower was also destroyed.

At Qianmen Railway Station, the most important part of the railway project, the municipal office hired German architect Rothkegel to design a Western-style station, which was planned according to the European landscape and equipped with a Western-style decorative fountain.From the roots of the ruinous ancient city wall, a glamorous Western building suddenly appeared.

Amidst the billowing smoke and rumbling of steam locomotives, the city walls and gate towers quickly lost their former grandeur and majesty, and were smashed away. In the 1930s, the most prestigious "first three gates"-Chongwenmen, Zhengyangmen, and Xuanwumen--neither are complete.

The railway opened the ancient city of Beijing from the outside, and the renovation of the city is in full swing. The city government pays the most attention to the streets in the city.

At that time, the streets of old Beijing could no longer be used normally. The road where the carts crossed was sunken on both sides and bulged in the middle. There was no covering on the road. The loose dirt road raised dust three feet in the wind, and when it rainedIt's muddy again.

Due to the lack of sewage and garbage recycling systems, residents are accustomed to dumping garbage and excrement everywhere on the streets. The streets are dirty and smelly, cinders and broken bricks from house repairs are piled up like mountains, and the garbage accumulated over the years even makes the streets more than houses.The base is still high.

This situation in the streets of the capital has naturally become a symbol of China's backwardness and a heart disease of patriots.

From the establishment of the Kyoto Municipal Office in 1914 to the end of 1918, a total of 121 roads were built, widened and repaired. By 1949, the total length of asphalt, concrete and gravel roads reached more than 250 kilometers, five times that of the early Republic of China.

Today, the iconic streets in Beijing’s inner city, such as Chang'an Street, Nanbei Chizi, and Nanbei Long Street, were opened in the first few years of the Republic of China by opening walls and holes in the imperial city wall, and citizens have been free since thenTraveling between the east, west, south and north cities. After 1924, the government began to tear down the imperial wall of the inner city in sections, and it was completely demolished during the Japanese occupation.

These high walls that once ruled Beijing's traffic have since quickly disappeared in public memory. In 1950, when a citizen submitted a book to discuss the issue of the preservation and abolishment of Beijing's city walls, they actually used "ancient fashion together with imperial walls" to describe these extinctions.A major landmark in the past twenty years.

In the early days of the Republic of China, the municipal office also launched a park opening movement aimed at constructing common public spaces in Western cities. The former royal gardens and temples in the capital were extensively rectified into parks for citizens' leisure and entertainment.

· List of modern parks in Beijing Peking. Source: Bi Wenjing "Research on Beijing Travel Guide in the Republic of China 1912-1936"

The first park to open was the Sheji altar. After the abdication of the Qing emperor, the Sheji altar was originally the private property of the Qing imperial family, but the Qing family was unable to manage it, so it was handed over to the government and named the Central Park first.It was renamed Zhongshan Park because the founding father stopped the spirit.

Not long after the opening, it became the busiest park in old Beijing. At that time, someone described the lively scene in the park: college students sandwiched pheasants, pheasants sandwiched merchants, businessmen sandwiched concubines, and masters and professors.The long list of confusion.

Another ambition of the Kyoto Municipal Office is to create a new urban area in accordance with Western urban planning. To this end, not only has it sent many overseas inspections, hired foreign consultants with high salaries, but also opened a column in the "Municipality Notice" to introduce advanced architectural planningExperience and philosophy.

Finally, the new urban area was selected as Xiangchang in Nancheng, also known as Xiangchang New Urban District. During the construction from 1915 to 1918, the Xiangchang built 14 vertical and horizontal roads and built about 20 newBuilding and entering a large number of new-style shops.

The most famous one is the Great World Recreation Arena from Shanghai, with Shanghai native Liu Baogeng serving as the general manager, which is modeled on the Shanghai Great World Recreation Arena.

On the first day of the first lunar month of 1918, Great World opened its doors. Like the Beijing Hotel and the Six Nations Hotel, it was installed with elevators. This was the first elevator in public places in the outer city of Beijing. Within a few days of opening, there was a crowd scrambledCrowded in an elevator, trampling people to death.

Xiangchang new urban area presents a prosperous scene. The neat architectural pattern and Western-style modeling form a sharp contrast with the dilapidation of the inner city. It also happens to be a portrayal of Beijing's vigorous modernization at that time, which regards tradition as an obstacle.

Beijing residents at the time did not know that the large-scale modernization was about to come to an end with historical changes, and the old Beijing, which they were rapidly getting rid of, would once again become the main content of the city's pride.

·Xiangchang New Urban Area

Peking crisis

In 1928, the modernization driven by municipal funds came to an end. In that year, the National Government that was victorious in the Northern Expedition moved the capital to Nanjing and Beijing became Peking.

Beijing, whose political status has plummeted, has no more authority over the surrounding area.

After the capital was moved in 1928, 20 of the 24 counties under Peiping then called Jingzhao Place were placed under Hebei, and the remaining control scope only extends to the area around the South Third Ring Road and the East Fifth Ring Road. HistoryFor the first time last time, Beiping no longer controls the surrounding agricultural areas, but has become a city with only a small suburban area.

In order to restore the decline, the Beiping City Government decided to seek land from Hebei where all the surrounding areas are valuable, such as Tongxian County with power stations, Mentougou with coal, railway hubs Lugou Bridge and Fengtai, and Tangshan with mountains to the north that can develop tourism.They are all cases of application. The result was directly rejected by Hebei Province without mercy.

· Beiping and its surrounding suburbs in 1928. Source: Dong Yue "Beijing City of the Republic of China"

Not only did the Hebei Provincial Government not buy it, the farmers in Tongxian County have learned to bargain.

In order to prevent the boiler explosion of the power station, Beijing Tram Company built its own power plant in the rural village of Tongxian County, 40 miles away from Beijing. The villagers only learned the news when it was about to be completed. The villagers immediately united and confronted the tram company:The tram company’s power plant is 40 miles away from Beijing and only 3 miles away from their village. Beijingers are afraid of danger, aren’t people in Tongxian?

Although the dispute was finally resolved, the start of construction was delayed for a few months. It is obvious that Beijing can no longer count on the obedience and cooperation of the surrounding areas as it did during the monarchy.

The economic and financial crisis is even more terrible.

For centuries, Beijing has been accustomed to the privilege of the status of the imperial capital. When Peking was the capital, the central government spent as much as 40 million yuan in Beijing each year, not including official life and outsiders' expenses. Because it canSitting on the direct supply of the national treasury for a long time, there has been almost no self-sufficient economy.

Beijing's industry and transportation are very weak, and there has been no major development.

In a 1930 trade union survey, the factories listed were only one power company, one match factory, one water supply company, and a newly-added printing factory. The total number of employees was about 5,000. Including telephone and telegraph.The total number of employees in the modern communications and transportation sectors, including railways and trams, is no more than 4,000.

Although the city has a population of one million, few people are employed in modern industry. The relocation of the capital has brought substantial threats to Beijing’s livelihood and prospects. A report in 1931 pointed out that in Peking, fromFrom July 1928 to June 1929, 32.7% of union members were unemployed.

The once large-scale financial industry also completely swept the streets after the relocation of the national government to the south. The Bank of China and the Bank of Communications moved south to Shanghai. The Beijing Stock Exchange, which was once prosperous due to the Beiyang government issuing bonds, also completely collapsed, 1932The fee income in the first half of the year was only 1,677 yuan, which was unable to operate normally.

Self-help-build a tourist city

In 1928, Beijing, which once regarded traditional elements as a burden and was dedicated to building a "modern city", took a 180-degree turn.

Starting from this year, the city has gradually acquired the status of "traditional Chinese cultural center." Under the title of tall, it is the dilemma of the city in the historical turning point: it has lost political resources and has no independence of itselfBeiping must find another way.

In 1928, Zhu Hui submitted the "Opinions on the Construction of Peking" to the Beiping Municipal Government, stating that there was no political resources after the capital moved to Beiping. "The market is sluggish, and the wealthy room left him. The funds were reduced, althoughAfter the catastrophe, the former palace and the Forbidden City are full of treasures," he proposed to build Peiping into a "center of national heritage, a center of academics, fine arts, art, a center of expression of oriental culture, a center of transportation, and a center of land industry.The center of sightseeing and the center of national defense."

In June 1933, Yuan Liang became the mayor of Beiping Municipal Government. The beginning of his appointment coincided with the signing of the "Tanggu Agreement".

Yuan Liang envisions that if Peking is planned to be built into a tourist attraction, and then upgraded to the largest cultural city in the East that has attracted the attention of the international community, it will be able to curb Japan’s encroachment to a certain extent.

Yuan Liang compiled a three-year municipal construction plan during his tenure, namely the "Peiping City Tourist Area Construction Plan", "Beiping City Ditch Construction Plan", "Beiping City River Arrangement Plan". This is the beginning of the official compilation of the Beiping City Plan.

The plan proposes to "make Peking into the largest cultural city in the East" and formally position Peking as a tourist city. The largest tourist resource is the cultural monuments represented by the imperial palace.

· The construction cost ratio table of the three plans. Among the three plans, the tourism plan is the core, which can be seen from the perspective of capital investment. Source: Chen Shuangchen, "Inheritance of the Ancient Capital-Beiping Urban Planning and Development from 1928 to 1949The Game of Ancient City Protection

After the plan was formulated, the municipal government established the Ancient Capital Cultural Relics Organizing Committee, under which the Cultural Relics Implementation Office will organize the cultural relics and buildings as the central task of the municipality, start to organize the ancient buildings and historical sites, and delineate the custody rights of the historical sites and historical sites.Plan, implement various repair projects in phases.

As of the July 7th Incident, in three years, dozens of projects have been repaired, such as the Temple of Heaven, Xiangshan Biyun Temple, Xizhimen Arrow Tower, etc. The historical sites that had been left out before were quickly protected, and the walls, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, etc. 18Every historic site has a clear management relationship and strengthened protection.

· The subordinate organs of various places of interest in Peiping in September 1934. Source: "Collection of Historical Materials on Beijing Urban Construction in the 20th Century·Part 1"

At the same time, the newly emerging tourism industry in China has also taken a fancy to Peking, which is of high quality and low price.

After China Travel Service was formally established in 1927, its subsidiary Peiping branch established cooperative relations with Japan International Tourism Administration and Travelex, etc. to undertake international travel teams.

In 1932, China Travel Agency established a travel company in Peiping, equipped with special tour buses and luggage trucks, and organized various forms of tour groups. China Travel Agency published information on the tourist attractions and routes in Peking in its "Travel Magazine".Articles. Various guidebooks promoting Peking tourism are also emerging.

September 1931, "Travel Magazine" Volume 5, Issue 9 published a "Beijing Seven-Day Tour" formulated by the Peking Branch of China Travel Agency, and recommended to tourists the Temple of Heaven, Xiannongtan, Bell and Drum Tower,Lama Temple, Confucian Temple, Imperial College, Summer Palace, Xishan, Forbidden City, Central Park, Great Wall, Jingshan, Ancient Observatory, Xiaotangshan and Zoo.

And in the "Travel Guide of Peking" and "Scene of the Old Capital", the palace gardens of Peking are also placed in the opening position. They are the essence of the city and are also regarded as a symbol of national culture.The shaping of the image of the city of Beiping is very important. Those that symbolize the glorious past of the city are also regarded as the carrier of national culture and national spirit.

· "Beijing Travel Guide" was a very popular travel guide at that time, "Old Capital Cultural Relics" was an official guidebook published by the Peking government organization. Both books put the historical sites of Peking first and prominentIn this period, English travel guides also appeared, also focusing on the past of Beiping

And the final formation of the image of Peking "National Cultural Center" is naturally inseparable from the participation of intellectuals.

Despite the decline of all industries in Peiping, many universities support a large group of high-paid intellectuals. Many service industries that previously served high-ranking officials can only actively reduce prices in a buyer's market where supply exceeds demand, so as to recruit a fewPatrons.

Take an example to illustrate the low cost of life in Peking. Let’s take a caravan for example! The decoration of a car in Peiping is very exquisite, like the private chartered car in the south, but the price is very cheap, in Shanghai or NanjingIt takes at least two or three cents to pay for the fare. In Peking, it only takes 20 or 26 four or five cents of the same day. And that foreign driver, with such a low seat price, can get it in one day., Can sustain his family's life.

· The rickshaw in old Beijing is a representative of the cheap service industry, and Xiangzi Luo Tuo is one of them

The low cost of living, the slow pace of life, and the thoughtful service industry living in Peiping is comfortable and full of superiority, which makes intellectuals like Beijing very much.

Occupied ``Dead City''

The new intellectuals do not regard themselves as Pekingese. They observe Peiping from a perspective very similar to that of tourists. They all believe that the main charm of Beijing lies in the natural historical attractions and landscaped royal gardens, rather than the

As for other parts of Peking, such as decadent commerce, outdated civic culture, and unsatisfactory public services, intellectuals are very disgusted.

Xu Zhimo’s opinion can quite represent the attitude of the new intellectuals towards Peking at that time. He called Beijing Peking the "dead city" and imagined a dialogue between a college student and the old man watching the tomb. The student asked: "Then do you love Beijing?" The tomb-seeing person almost laughed: "This student asks so much cola! Do you love Beijing? When people are poor and old, what is there to love or not?"

It was only under the threat of Japanese invasion in the 1930s that the criticism of Beijing subsided. When the Northeast fell and Peiping became the front line, Beijing in public opinion finally became the cultural wealth of the country.

After the fall of Beijing, as the political and economic center of the invaders' North China rule, the city ushered in a new round of modernization. Tap water and electricity supply surged, and all kinds of cemeteries all over the city were cleared. TheseThe transformation continued until the end of the Anti-Japanese War and the end of the Civil War, and the less popular side of old Beijing gradually became history.

· Distribution map of main Lingling temples in Beijing during the Republic of China, reproduced from Ju Xi's "The Concept of Death and Urban Space-Taking Beijing as an Example from the Late 18th Century to the Early 20th Century"

At the same time, most of the intellectuals retreated to the south before the outbreak of the war, and most of them began to write words about the daily life of old Beijing. The local culture of Beijing that they once looked down upon was in a special environmentUnder, was given a brand-new, but inevitably exaggerated meaning.

Yu Dafu once described this attitude with such passionate emotions: "Peking, where culture has gathered for five to six centuries, and Peking, where there is no bad month in all seasons, I am in Yaoyi, and I also wish deeply.Her safe progress will be the old capital that our descendants of the Yellow Emperor have forever!"

Whether it is fierce or sentimental, this city that has seen too much honor and disgrace is still standing upright. Soon, power will change his face, shrouding the not-distant past in history, waiting for people's infinite imagination.


  • 1. "Collection of Historical Materials on Beijing Urban Construction in the 20th Century·Part 1"

  • 2. "The Grand Liberty", September 14, 1912, page 7.

  • 3. Han Guanghui "Beijing Historical Population Geography", Beijing Peking University Press, 1996, p.134.

  • 4. Ji Jianqing: "Beijing of the Republic of China in the Travel Guide"

  • 5. Xue Chunying: "Research on Beijing Modern Urban Planning"

  • 6. Chen Shuangchen: "The Legacy of the Ancient Capital—The Game between the Urban Planning and Development of Beiping and the Protection of the Ancient City from 1928 to 1949"

  • 7. Jia Changbao "Research on the Demolition of Beijing Imperial City Walls in the Early Period of the Republic of China 1915-1930"

    Text|Under the Sea

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