Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 1999, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (1): 69-76.doi: 10.11821/xb199901008

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A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF THE SOCIAL GEOGRAPHYOF BEIJING DURING THE LATE QING ANDTHE EARLY REPUBLICAN PERIOD

Wang Jun, Zhu Gongwu   

  1. 1. Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, Beijing 100039;
    2. Guangzhou Institute of Geography, Guangzhou 510071
  • Received:1996-09-18 Revised:1996-12-23 Online:1999-01-15 Published:1999-01-15
  • Supported by:
    Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China,No.49801007

Abstract: Unlike the imperial rule before 1840 and the socialist period after 1949, Beijing during the first 30 years of the twentieth century experienced colonialism and internal social change which caused a corresponding change in the city’s social areas. Based on the city’s population data and several social surveys conducted after 1906 and using notions of classic urban ecological theory and the preindustrial city, this paper examines the internal spatial structure of Beijing during the late Qing and the early Republican period. With the erosion of the Qing authority, the decline of the Manchu noblemen, and the rise of modern citizenship and new professionals in the commercializing society, dramatic social transformation taking place in Beijing caused major changes in the city’s traditional internal spatial structure. Three types of social spatial patterns emerged that bear some resemblance to the characteristics of the preindustrial city and the urban structure in Latin America. First, social spatial differentiation took place. While the elite were concentrated in the central zone where they enjoyed spacious housing and good urban facilities, the urban poor were compelled by rents to move to the periphery where the living conditions were much inferior. Second, family size and family economic condition were positively correlated, with the city center having more large families and the periphery more small families. Relatives, concubines and servants living in the same household were all counted as members of the same household. Third, in terms of ethnic distribution, the declining Manchu nobles and numerous Bannermen had to sell their houses to make a living and to leave their comfortable princely estates and the Inner City for the fringe areas, especially in the northern part of the city. The Hui had a lowly social status who were clustered in the Ox Street and the Flower Market areas, both in the urban fringe. Since the Qing established its capital in Beijing, the Inner City was known as the Tartar City because it was occupied by the Bannermen. Since the downfall of the Qing, social segregation and residential integration appeared, the patterns of which were determined mainly by the residents’ economic status. In addition, international forces further complicated the patterns of social spatial differentiation. Typical examples include the emergence of the new commercial center at Wangfujing, the formation of the high-class residential area in Dongdan, the appearance of a banking district in Xijiaominxiang, and the presence of the Legation Quarter in the adjacent Dongjiaominxiang area.

Key words: Beijing, late Qing and early Republic period, urban social areas

CLC Number: 

  • F299.29