Evening hutong walk in Beijing's Tongzhou district...
𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘪𝘯 𝘛𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘻𝘩𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵…
We recently moved to a new home in Tongzhou district, adjacent to the old hutong area in the district. Tongzhou is located in southeast Beijing and considered the eastern gateway to the capital. It has witnessed a strong population growth from about 670,000 in 2000 to about 1,3 million in 2020. The municipal government center has been moving to Tongzhou and the area is being developed as one of the major administrative centers of the Jingjinji Metropolitan Region, also known as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BJ-TJ-HB) or the Capital Economic Zone, a megapolis in development with a population of 110 million people.
通州区 Tongzhou was founded in 195 BC during the Western Han Dynasty under the name of Lu (路) County. In 1151 during the Jin dynasty Lu County was renamed Tongzhou, roughly meaning 'the place for passing through', in recognition of its importance as the northern end of the Grand Canal and gateway to Beijing. Although the oldest parts of the Grand Canal date back to the 5th century BC, various sections were first connected during the Sui dynasty (581–618 AD). Various Dynasties from 13th to 17th centuries upgraded the Canal and altered its route to supply their capital.
The place name changed to Tong County (通县Tōng Xiàn) when the area was placed under the new municipal region of Beijing in 1914. And again reverted to Tongzhou when the urban area was upgraded in 1997 to a Beijing district.
Apart for its historic gateway to the Grand Canal, Tongzhou is also known for two historic battles. The Lugou Bridge Incident (卢沟桥事变), also known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937 was a fierce and bloody battle between China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. The incident is generally regarded as the start of the “War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression” (抗日战争) from 1937 to 1945, also known as the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The other battle in Tongzhou district was the Battle of Zhangjiawan (張家灣戰役) on September 18, 1860 between British/French colonial army forces on their march to Beijing from Tianjin against the imperial Qing Dynasty forces during the Second Opium War.
Tongzhou’s historic landmark is the 通州燃灯塔 or Randeng Pagoda, built in the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557-581). The pagoda has historically been surrounded by three temples; the Confucian temple (Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368), the Ziqing Taoist temple (Ming Dynasty 1368-1644) and the Youshengjiao Buddhist temple (Northern Qi Dynasty 550-577).
The traditional hutongs in the pictures are about 2 kilometers south of the Randeng Pagoda area, part of the older Tongzhou city planning before the huge economic and social transformations took off a few decades ago. The hutong area is also home to one of the district mosques.