Former Legation Quarter , DongCheng District, Beijing
( Now TaijiChang Toutiao )
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This page was last updated on: June 29, 2017
Schematic Map of the 1900 AD Legation Quarter, The Legations and More - Click through !
Satellite Image Map of Chongwen District and the southern-most part of DongCheng District, clearly showing the extend of West- and East-Legations Street and the Legation Quarter of Beijing.
A View down the narrow (former) Rue Hart, now TaiJiChang Toutiao. Down the street on the right and lies the former Danish Legation.
Rue Hart and Area in the (former) Foreign Legations of Beijing
The residence of Robert Hart can still be clearly recognized as a walled compound North of and adjacent the Large Communist Party Committee Headquarters.
After 1949 AD, the residence was given as a retirement home to famous but rather controversial writers, a group also known as the fellow travelers.
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A Close up view of the Rue Hart sign. It has been painted over several times with thick grey paint, but is still clearly readable.
A look back from Tajichang Toutiao towards TaiJiChang Dajie, the former Customs Street. Across stands the Communist Party Committee of Beijing headquarters building, which is guarded 24 hours a day even now. No photography of its gate is allowed and the guards watch for it continuously.
Watch out for the traffic as even this small alley is crammed with cars at odd times.
Although the former Danish Legation and Austro-Hungarian Legation are located on this street, not much of them is visible due to the high
walls on either side of the Road. Further down on the
right hand stand more modern apartment flats which
clearly do no belong to the Legations Era.
Location of the remaining Rue Hart Street sign, alledgedly the only english language street sign in Beijing to survive the Cultural Revolution. Ofcourse,today english language street signs have returned to Beijing.
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"China Fights Back"
View of the location of the Rue Hart street sign, attached to wall of the Former Austrian Legation compound.
Agnes Smedley (USA) and New Zealander Rewi Alley, a rare honor and thank you from the Chinese State and Peoples for their contributions to the anti-Japanese War and the Chinese Revolution.
Today the residence houses the Overseas Friendship Association headquarters
which accounts for the colorful photos on display outside the residence today.
Go have a look when passing the Bus Stop near the north-west corner of former Rue Marco Polo, which was also known as Customs Street.
The first building at former Rue Hart worth mentioning is the compound of the former Austrian Legation, which stands at the North-side of the
A look at the western end of Rue Hart. On the lefts stands the Austrian Legation whereas on the right stands the former Post Office.
corner of TaiJiChang Dajie - Rue Marc Polo and Rue Hart.
On the Wall of the Austrian Legation one finds a hidden street sign, painted over many times. It reads (as depicted) Rue Hart, and nothing else. Allegedly this is the only English or foreign language street-sign to survive the angers of the Cultural Revolution, which was among things paranoid, anti-imperialist and anti-foreign. Have a look at the historic sign and wonder what the location must have been like in those past days of the 19Th and 20Th Century in the secluded legations Quarter.
Across the street from the Rue Hart street-sign is a blank and high wall hiding what is the location of the former British Post Office. The Post Office was Coveniently located across from the Customs Office and
was the busiest of the Legations. Today there is not much to see except the wall and a roof above that. It is unknown if the building behind the wall was built after the Boxer War or is part of the original post office structure.
Head further down the street along the high grey walls to try and get a look at the Former Danish Legation on the right hand and south side of the Street. The Former Palace of Prince Yu, destroyed in 1900 AD, lies on the North Side immediatly East of the Austro-Hungarian Legation, damaged by fire.
Robert Hart and China
The young Robert Hart came to China in 1854 AD at the very young age of 19, initially as an assistant and interpreter for the British Consular Service. During his career in the British Imperial Service, and after 1859 AD strictly as an employee of the Chinese Government, Hart lived through four foreign invasions of China, the Taiping Rebellion of 1852-64, the Boxer rising of 1900, the attempted partition of the country by the West
and the eventual crumbling of the confucian imperial system leading to the downfall of the Qing Dynasty.
In 1863 AD Hart became Inspector General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs Service, the central authority in the imposed Treaty Port system of the Colonial Era, a position he was to hold for the next 48 years.
The Function of the Maritime Customs Office was to regulate trading relations between China and the Western powers and to collect customs revenue for the Chinese government. The Customs Service provided the government with a regular income independent of interference by the provincial authorities, thereby strengthening the dynasty's position against its rivals.
Hart was one of the many foreigners and Chinese Christians besieged by the Boxers (Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists) in the Legations in Beijing in the summer of 1900 AD. The Customs offices, his house and all of his property were destroyed in the uprising.
According to historians Hart had 'a profound sense of loyalty and obligation to the Chinese government'.
Robert Hart received a Chinese peerage in 1889 AD and was promoted to Knighthood, making him Sir Robert Hart in 1893.
In the months after the Boxer Siege Hart reflected on the Rising and revealed a perceptive understanding of its significance, an understanding that few Westerners shared. Later historians discovered that Hart corresponded with Qing officials during the Siege itself, which explains for a large part his pivotal role in persuading the Qing Dynasty Court and officials of the more than 8 foreign countries involved in the "Boxer War" to begin negotiations. Later letters found in archives in Nanjing (Jiangsu Province) illustrate the critical role Hart played in fashioning the Boxer Protocol signed on 7 September 1901 AD, ending the War. Harts famous words : 'We cannot say we had no warning'.
As mentioned however, Hart himself lost his Home and nearly all of his earthly possesions in China in the whole upsurge of anti-foreign sentiments.
In the aftermath he left China at Age 73, moving back to
Introduction to Rue Hart in the (former) Foreign Legations of Beijing
This street was named after Sir Robert Hart who was the British Inspector General of the Chinese customs service from 1863 AD to 1907 AD.
Hart had a residence across the street adjacent the Customs Office on the former Rue Marco Polo (now TaijiChang Dajie'), which was burned and rebuilt as the Beijing City Communist Party Committee Headquarters. Apart from these facts the former Rue Hart is the location of the former Austro-Hungarian Legation, the Former Danish Legation and the Former Russian Veterans (of a Later Date). Last but not least its south-west corner was the location of one of the Legations Post Offices, the British Post Office. Not much is to be seen at Rue Hart today, but it reamins a living relic of the Beijing Legations Era.
Schematic Map of the 1916 AD Beijing Legation Quarter, between 1861 AD - and 1919 AD home of the Colonial Embassies in Beijing,
Map depicts the Former Legations Quarter including details of the Southern City Walls and Beijing's First Railway Station (QianMen) as well as the smaller TiananMen Square of 1916 AD. Further on this Map the Location of ALL Legations of Various European and other Colonial Nations plus Todays remaining remnants and sights of the Beijing (Former) Legation Quarter.
Short Summary of Streets in the Legations Quarter with their historic relevance is included !
Read More in the 11 Page Report on the Legations Quarter of Today.
Student "Red Guards" crowd around a street sign in Beijing in the early phases of the Cultural Revolution. In 1966/67 AD, during the vaguely defined destroy the "4 olds campaign", Foreign Street signs in Beijing were torn down and/or replaced with Chinese names. Out of respect for the true integrity of Sir Robert Hart, as hailed by the Communist Party (and possibly Mao Zedong) , the Rue Hart Street Sign was the only Foreign Name sign not removed or changed in the entire City of Beijing. It remains today as a small, often overlooked, but unique and important historical relic.
London in Britain.Ironically, Hart died there in 1911 AD, a mere three weeks before the Empire he had so arduously helped and defended finally succumbed to the modernization of the world and world relations. Hart and the Empire were Dead, The First Republic of China was born.
Mao Zedong at the nearby TiananMen in September 1966.