Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Case Studies In Sustainable Civilization: China To Restore Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal; Dedicates Grand Canal Culture Museum in Liaocheng

"Until the early 1990s, crews on barges and boats chugging down China’s 2,400-year-old Grand Canal did not need familiar landmarks to tell them they were approaching the scenic city of Hangzhou.

“The water was black,” said Zhu Jianbai, assistant director of the city government’s Grand Canal Restoration and Development Group. “There was no life in it. If you lived beside it, you had to live with the stink.”

“It was an embarrassment,” Mr. Zhu said.

But a $250 million makeover that began in 2001 has improved water quality and spurred urban renewal along a 24-mile section of this ancient transport artery that once connected China’s great west-to-east river systems, carrying the goods, taxes and official communications that sustained successive dynasties.

Today, small fish swim among the pylons supporting cargo wharves where effluent from factories and raw sewage from homes had poisoned this section of the world’s oldest man-made waterway. Walkways and parkland line sections of the canal, and some of China’s most expensive apartment buildings have sprung up beside it on what has become prime real estate. Water taxis connect historic piers and bridges along the winding route through the city where old shop houses and tenements are being restored." ...

David Lague "On an Ancient Canal, Grunge Gives Way to Grandeur" New York Times July 24, 2007



HERITAGE OF THE GRAND CANAL Chinese Heritage Quarterly No. 9 March 2007
The Australian National University (Many photographs and maps)

Above, photograph published in 1987 of the Gongchen Bridge at the southern end of the Grand Canal in Hangzhou. Source: Photograph among frontispiece illustrations in An Zuozhang, Zhongguo yunhe wenhua shi (History of the culture of the Grand Canal), Jinan: Shandong Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 2001, vol.1, no page numbers.

Middle, The Grand Canal once linked Hangzhou with Beijing and connected China’s great west-to-east river systems. The canal is no longer navigable between Beijing and the city of Jining in Shandong Province, but the remaining section south to Hangzhou remains in heavy use. Photo (c) David Lague, International Herald Tribune.

Below, exterior of newly opened Grand Canal Culture Museum in Liaocheng, Shandong province. © China Heritage Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS), The Australian National University.

Photo credits: As noted above. With thanks.


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