The first linear and circular lines of the Beijing subway system started operations in the year 1969 AD a much hailed feat of the Cultural Revolution Era. At the time, the linear line was designed to connect the Political heartland of the city with the Foreign Diplomatic compounds and factory district found outside the former city walls in a situation much resembling the one previously seen under the Feudal Emperors.
With 5 subway stations to run the length of the
Jianguomen Outer Street
(Jianguomen Wai Dajie ; 建国门外大街)
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History of Jianguomen Outer Street in Beijing:
Jianguomen was one of the south-eastern gates of the City Walls in Beijing. It was a massive gate.

The Jianguomen Outer Street was thus the road leading from the countryside and the east up to the Establishing the Nation Gate of the City of Beijing, the Imperial and National Capital.
As can be seen on the various historic Maps of the city made between the first Foreign arrivals around the year 1875 AD and the year 1916, now just over a 100 years ago during the heydays of Foreign Colonial or "Imperialist"  activities in China,  outside of the Gate a real road as can be found today did not exists.

Outside of the city walls lay essentially
The well guarded an much overlooked Gate of the south Embassy Diplomatic Compounds along the north side of Jianguomen Outer Street in Beijing.
Blazing evening lights of the LG Twin Towers, one of the more esthethic architectural projects which have sprouted up in the new Millenium along the Jianguomen Outer Street.
Map of Beijing in 1916 AD - 1916 AD Beijing City Plan 1A
Schematic Map of the the City of Beijing in 1916 AD, shortly after the 1911 Xinghai Revolution and the Debacle of Yuan-Shi Kai's attempt to Crown Himself Emperor. Ex-Emperor Pu Yi still inhabited The Palace, outside Beijing was modernizing and China was experiencing the industrial Revolution.
Among the most noteworthy features of this Map are: 1) The QianMen Railway Station, at the Time the Main Railroad Station of Beijing. 2) The small station outside and West of XizhiMen Gate, built in 1905 AD and diverting the Central Watersupply of Beijing underground, 3) The Imperial City and the much smaller TiananMen Square of 1916 AD. This Map is one of the Few maps that shows the Pre'-Revolutionary Lay-out of Tian'AnMen Square. Further on this Map the First University of Beijing due East of Jingshan, the new University Campus north-west of Deshengmen, and finally the Location of "The Legations" of Colonial Nations plus Todays remaining remnants and sights of the Beijing (Former) Legation Quarter.
Click Map Image to go to FULL Version !!
Click Map Image to go to Full Version !!
Map of The City of Beijing and Wider Region in 1912 AD
A Shematic Map of Beiping (Beijing) and immediate vicinity in the Year 1912 AD, using the Old (and oudated) Wade-Giles naming sytem.
Map depicts major and minor roads, villages and Towns, Walled City of Beijing, Various Palaces of the Imperial Family, Temples, Mosques and Churches, The new railroad stations and lines such as Qianmen Station and Xizhimen Station both oustide the City Walls of Beijing, The Legations, buildings used by The Government of the First Republic of China, all city gates, outlying villages and roads, rivers in the region and more.
The situation around the Jianguo Men - Establishing the Nation Gate is clearly outlined although the gate itself is not as clearly marked on this Map as one might wish for.
but some farm and wasteland with farming villages sprinkled in between.
The main road to connect out of the city was found at Chaoyang -men, from where it ran in a east by south-eastern direction eventually to end up at a town known as Tongzhou.
The maps
also clearly show the situation outside of the Jianguomen Gate, where there was an Imperial Temple and a Park situated just beyond what was then the City Wall and the Moat.
No straight road ran eastward out of the Gate, as this would have met the Temple and Gardens. Instead, a small and narrow road branched off outside the Walls, leading due south to the south gate of the Temple and then east along the main landmark of that time, the "Grand Canal" - last extended during the Yongle Reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) to reach Beijing and feed the multitudes of the court as well as the city dwellers.
The Grand Canal traveled at about half a kilometer to the south and parallel to the current day Jianguomen Outer Road in the same direction, towards the town of Tongzhou.  At the time there was an Imperial Hunting Ground situated at Tongzhou (now known as
The LG Twin Towers were one of the first landmarks of the Central Business District to emerge after the turn of the Millenium. Although a multitude of new locations, landmarks and architectural wonders have sprung up since its construction the towers still mark one of the most interesting and fun parts of the Chaoyang District.
Beijing Milu Yuan Park) very near the point where the Grand Canal had its branches to the yellow sea and the port of Tianjin, and southward to reach the southern Provinces.

After the Grand Canal was constructed in the early 15th century the situation outside of the Jianguomen Gate remained more or less the same for centuries. Through turmoil, prosperity, good and bad harvest the land lay pretty much untouched until the arrival of the first Foreigners. Having brutally forced a foothold into an up till then hermit Chinese Kingdom or better Empire, Foreigners slowly started their work of exploring and opening up the gigantic Qing Dynasty Empire after the first and the second "Opium Wars". The first scandalous invasion and war came in 1839 - 1842 AD and the second in 1858 -1662 AD, soon leading to invasion of the Capital of Beijing and the burning of the Qianfeng Emperor's most prized Palace, the Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfect Ripples). Without getting further into the excesses following the fall of the city and the flight of the Emperor, particularly the burning of the Imperial Palace was an act of cultural vandalism unbefitting a world Empire such as Britain, yet - it was purpatrated and never forgotten.
In the aftermath, as the opening up of China as it was known took a high flight, the first Foreign Embassies were established in the city and the new Foreigners living in the city set to work producing the above depicted maps.

The next Chapter in the recent history of the Establish the Nation Gate and the road leading out of it then came when a grandiose revolt of the population against the multitude of woes it had been exposed to led to a siege of the so called "Legations Quarter" which was the mostly European Foreign Embassy compound found inside the city walls not too far from the Establish the Nation Gate.
In the summer of 1900 AD tensions which had been simmering in the Provinces around the Capital for over a year came to a head when a notorious and boundless army was invited to be within the city on express permission by the court ruled by the Empress Dowager Cixi. As troubles broke out in Provinces and City soon, the Legations Quarter became a magnet for fleeing Foreigners seeking refuge and while people piled up inside, the entire district found itself under attack cut off from the outside world.
In the ensuing international turmoil, a multitude of Nations joined in another campaign to humiliate the already desperate Chinese population, leading to yet another military campaign heading towards the city. After a full fledged invasion through the port of Tianjin, the second such affront, various Nations converged on the city ready to deliver the last knock out blow to the Chinese Armies. In the process of the retaking of the city, the Jianguomen Gate was partially destroyed. After having been blown open allowing Japanese and American armies to enter the city and fight their way to the gates of the besieged Legations.
READ THE DETAILS OF THE SIEGE, WAR AND MORE IN: "Former Foreign Legations Quarter of Beijing".

Although the Foreigners had certainly flourished already before the "Boxer War" of 1900 AD, after the latest victory and the the near total subjugation of the Chinese Nation, the financial merits, status and social life went through a renewed period of self confidence and self gratification. In this period the Legations became the international cenetr of the city which however was off limits to any uninvited Chinese guests. In a complete turn about of earlier deeds, words and events, the Qing Court embodied by the ailing Empress Dowager suddenly did show a willingness to cooperate with the beforehand stubbornly despised Foreign community and modern developments started in the city of Beijing.
Most significantly for the Jianguomen Gate and Jianguomen Outer Road, in rapid succession several railway lines were constructed to reach the city of Beijing. In addition, the so called Jingshi railway was built to encircle the city.
The original Jingshi Railway, the Beijing Loop Line, had a length of but 12.6 kilometers and had stations at every city gate found along its length. Starting at Xizhimen, today the location of Beijing North Train Station and transpirtation hub, the line led eastward and clockwise around the city to pass outside of Deshengmen Gate, Andingmen Gate and so on. Turning south from Dongzhimen, as does the subway-metro system under the ground does today, it led down to Chaoyangmen, Jianguomen and then the Dongbianmen (Red Gate) or south-east corner watchtower near the connection with the Grand Canal. Several kilometers due west of the Dongbianmen, on the south side of the city, the line interconnected with the so called Beijing-Fengtian Railway at the Shenyangmen East Station (also known as Qianmen Station) or Front Gate (Qianmen) which was then the southern and central point of the city. Today this trajectory corresponds to the route followed by the 2nd ring road and the subway system underneath it.
Apart from servicing all gates for passenger transport, this simple system also effectively connected the three important existing stations that were built on the edges of the old city. These were the station of the Beijing-Suiyuan Railway, the connection station with the Beijing-Hankou Railway and of course the already mention Shenyangmen East Station of the Beijing-Fengtian Railway.
In addition to the circular line there was an additional parallel line of some 4 kilometers length found on the south side of the city between Xibianmen and Guang Anmen gates. It was built in order to facilitate and park the freight traffic coming in through the Beijing-Fengtian Line and the Beijing-Hankou railway line. As can clearly be seen on the above depicted and linked Historic Map of Beijing in 1916, a small loop line was created outside and east of Jianguomen Gate presumably to enable sorting of traffic.

In july 1954 AD, the Deshengmen, Andingmen, Dongzhimen and Chaoyangmen Stations of the Jingshi Line were closed as a first step in a larger plan to decomission it and replace it with an ambitious 2nd ring road to encircle the city. Naturally, this meant that the Jingshi railway as well as the City Walls of the Ming Era had to go. Not long after, the Jianguomen Gate was dismantled in its entirety and the wide moat that lay outside it was filled in the create a space to run the new ring road of the city through.
It was a momentous and historic change of which sadly, not many historic photos remain.
In 1958 AD the part of the Loop Line between Xizihimen and Chaoyangmen, ie.e. about half of the track, was dismantled to allow for the beginning of construction of the gaint Beijing Railway Station on the south east side of the city. At the same time, in an effort to open the inner city to more traffic, the Jianguomen Outer Road was created, a straight running road to connect between Tongzhou in the east and the now emerging second ring road of the city of Beijing in the west.
After the completion of the Beijing Railway Station in the year 1959 in time for the celebrations of the 10th year of the Socialist Revolution the new situation as it is today was established. That is, after the railroad tracks between Chaoyangmen and Dongbianmen were removed in 1958 removed, the Jianguomen Outer Street was constructed to connect with Jianguomen Inner Street and beyond, via Eternal Peace Avenue, the Square of Heavenly Peace and the heart of the city itself.
Sweeping changes started to ripple across the city and Nation as slowly Deng Xiaoping established his dominance within the Communist Party of China and so over the city of Beijing. In due time, in the beginning of the 1980's the new economic changes launched by Deng culminated into a new highpoint and expression of economic freedom with the establishment of (at first illegal) street markets in Beijing. First among these was the Xiushi Street a.k.a. "Silk Alley" which was not only a street market for the locals, but also a high end luxury market which soon developed as an outlet for Chinese luxury goods bound for overseas markets. That is, it was discovered by the Foreign Community that great silks could be bought at extraordinarily cheap prices in a small alley behind some buildings just south of Jianguomen Outer Street. As these made great souvenirs for the homefront, the Silk Alley soon got its name and has since been popular as THE destination for Foreign Shopping in Beijing. Although other such street markets and special stores emerged in the city, Silk Alley still retains its popularity and is probably the most popular address for (cheap) silk (knock offs) shopping in the city today.

The most recent historic developments at Jianguomen Outer Street have come after the turn of the millenium.
- More History of Jianguomen Outer Street is under Editing -
Return to: Chaoyang District - Menu
1) Jianguomen Outer Street - General Introduction
2) History of Jianguomen Outer Street
Jianguomen Outer Street, the status of the new road was immediatly elevated into something special, although things certainly were not as spectacular as in Paris, London, New York and even Moscow. The new subway system did however unlock the previously dark and semi-unreachable western compounds and the entire Chaoyang District, to the enormous relief of the Foreign diplomats, businessmen and women and of course stwardesses and airline crews stuck just outside the throbbing heart of the Capital city.

As was the intention, ultimately, the development of the city wide subway system led to more development in and just beyond the city. In the case of the Jianguomen Outer Road and the Chaoyang District, true development was years in the making, or more accurately, in the waiting. In fact, although the subway system seemed to be a prelude to the emerging of Beijing as a new and more modern city, no change would come to city and road until well after the death of the "Great Helmsman" Mao Zedong. Until that happened, in September of 1976 AD, there was not much economic development and as such things mainly stayed as they were. At the time the whole of Chaoyang District was but a collection of wide but boring and gritty roads, mainly taken up by factory complexes and drab and anonymous buildings amidst of which only the "Workers Stadium" was a spectacular place, although for all the wrong reasons.
READ MORE IN: "Chaoyang Workers Stadium".

Apart from the political and human savagery displayed at the infamous Workers Stadium during the Cultural Revolution (1966 AD - 1976 AD) the only other thing "cooking" in the Chaoyang District was the so called "Friendship Store", a place where the privileged and happy few could exchange a specially circulated money only to be used by Foreigners and Party Cadres for much wanted western, Russian and Chinese consumer and luxury goods. Of course this store was located on the dynamic new thoroughfare in the east city where the Foreigners were forcably congregated and the market thus existed. Although the Friendship Store no longer operates under its old regime with the exchange of special currencies and favors, the building still retains its name today and can be found several hundred meters east of Jianguomen Gate along the north side of Jianguomen Outer Road.
The so called south Embassy Compound found just north of Jianguomen Outer Street in the Chaoyang District in the east of the city started its history in the year XXX.
- History of the South Embassy Compound of Beijing under research at this Time -
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