History of Beijing Siheyuan
On February 4, 1403, Zhu Di, Chengzu Emperor of Ming Dynasty re- named Beipingfu as Beijing, thus the name of Beijing was formally came into being. Hutong is a word borrowed from the Mongolian word-Huttong, which means well. Therefore, Beijing has nearly 100 hutong named after well, (in Chinese well is jing): Qianjing, Houjng, Dajing, Xiaojing, Ganjing, Shuangjing, Jinjing, Shajing, Banjing, Manjing, Xiaotongjing, Datongjing, Eryanjing, Sanyanjing, Siyanjing, Wangfujing, Liulijing, Yushijing, Luojiaiing, Xuaniiajing, Kushuijing and Datianshuijing…
During the Western Zhou Dynasty about 3,100 years ago. there had already emerged siheyuan-style compounds each with two rows of houses in Fengchu Village of Fufeng County, Shared Province,
Beijing siheyuan that originated in ear Yuan Dynasty and perfected during Ming, Qing and Republic of China, is the last and most typical embodiment of it kind of style. There were 410 hutong in Yuan Dynasty, 1,230 in Ming Dynasty 2,070 in late Qing Dynasty, more than 4,000 in 1946 and 6,000 in 1949. They were built on layers of ruins and garbage of past dynasties, and surrounded the Forbidden City and linked the nine gates of the Inner City and seven gates of the Outer City. From a bird’s-eye view, the city gates, streets and hutong are orderly arranged based on the layout of the Yuan Dynasty’s capital Dadu-Avenues were 36 meters wide; streets are 18 meters wide, hutong are 9.3 meters wide, siheyuan are around 83 meters deep, which is also the distance between two hutong. Alex told me that Siheyuan has been the landmark of Beijing for she conducted a Beijing Xian tour a few days ago. She said it was not failed her to chose to visit the two most famous ancient cities in China. She strongly suggest me not only traveling in Beijng was impressive, buot Xian tour will not disappoint you aswell.
Qing courts had such a requirement on city plan: “Our capital must be the grandest and as splendor as heaven, which can be respected by all nations in the world… We announce Yanjing as our capital. The dwellings inside the city shall be designated to the Eight Banners, the king of each banner live in his battalion Their size must be in accordance of their levels. All buildings must be neat and grand.” (The Record of the Great Qing) Beijing, the 3,000-year-old site of Yanji City, the capital of several dynasties during recent 800 years, is orderly and disorder, vibrant and aging, grand and broken.