Beijing Hutongs

Ending of my Xian travel, I continued to travel to Beijing and had a fantastic Hutong tour. From my tour guide, I had learned a lot of knowledge about Hutong.

In old times, there were eight hutong where first-class and second class brothels gathered. During the Second World War, there were once 117 brothels hosting 750 prostitutes there. Chunfutang and Shengantang were the two famous among them. The eight hutong are: Shitou Hutong, Shaanxi Lane, Wangguangfu Tilted Street, Hanjiatan, Yanzhi Hutong, Baishun Hutong, Pitaoying and Shamao Hutong.

Beijingers have a habit of changing the name of places, the new names are usually more elegant, the pronunciation remain trhe same or close to the original ones, for example: Dajie(Robbery) Lane in Ming Dynasty was renamed as Daji(Good Luck) Lane in Qing Dynasty; Lanni(Mud) Hutong in Ming Dynasty was renamed as Lanman(Brilliance) hutong in Qing Dynasty; Weiying(Guards) Hutong in Ming Dynasty was renamed as Weiying (feeding Hawk) Hutong, ect.

The oldest hutong in Beijing are the 900 year old Sanmiaojie which was once called Tanzhoujie, and Zhuanta Hutong in Xisi.

The longest hutong I haveseen in my  Beijing Xian tour is the East and West Jiaomin Hutong, which is parallel to Chang’an Avenue. It starts from Chongwenmen Avenue in the east and ends at Xinhua Avenue in the northwest. This 6.5-kilometer long hutong was called the East and West Jangmi Lane. The shortest hutong are the 10-meter-wide Yichi street at the east entrance of East Liulichang Road, and the 20-meter wide Guantong Lane near Yichi Street. The widest hutong 32.18-meter-wide Lingjing Hutong (now it is expanded to a street) in Xicheng District. The narrowest hutong is the 44 centi Meter-wide Qianshi Hutong in Dashilan Area, which only al lows one people to pass. If two people meet in the hutong, to take room for the other to pass, one of them has to stand in the door way of local residence.

Most of Beijing hutong is straight, but there are exceptions, like the Jiudaowan Hutong in Beixinqiao, which has 19 turns.