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Qianmen Street: Yesterday once more
By Hao Zhou (
Updated: 2008-07-03 11:37

Qianmen Street: Yesterday once moreOn August 7, just one day before the 2008 Beijing Olympics opens, the torch relay will pass through the brand new Qianmen Street.

"Qianmen Street is also called the Heaven Street, because there were 23 emperors during China's Ming and Qing dynasties walking through this street to pray and make sacrifice at the Temple of Heaven," said Tian Yun, the president of Qianmen Assets Management and Development Co Ltd.

The Forbidden City and the entire Beijing city are designed based on a north-south axle wire, from Yongdingmen at the south of downtown Beijing, to Tiananmen, and to Jingshan, to Gulou and Zhonglou at the north. Qianmen Street, starting at Yueliangwan (Moon Bay) in the north and ending at Zhushikou in the south, is a landmark of Beijing's axle wire to the south of Tiananmen Square.

Centuries ago, Qianmen Street had become a commercial and amusement center due to its convenient location, connecting the Imperial Palace and civil communities in ancient Beijing. Today, in an effort to rejuvenate Beijing's traditional culture and customs, in the run-up to the Olympics, Qianmen Street, which witnessed the nation's wax, wane and renaissance, underwent a year-long renovation.

Qianmen Street: Yesterday once more
The combo photo shows the ancient Qianmen Street (L) and the renovated Qianmen Street. [File Photo]

"Diang-diang" Vehicle

A trolley car was firstly installed in Qianmen Street in late 1924. It had no horn but a bell that rang to warn pedestrians to clear the way. Therefore, Beijingers awarded the tramcar a nick name: "Diang-diang" vehicle. However, it was removed after 42 years running along the Qianmen Street.

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Following 32 rounds of discussion by 16 experts, the renovation work was planned to recreate Qianmen Street's look of the 1920s and 1930s.

"Diang-diang vehicle, as a memorial symbol of ancient Beijing, has now driven back to Qianmen Street after disappearing for another 42 years, which left it only to exist in Beijingers' memories," Tian said.

With a maximum capacity of 84 passengers, the car takes a 10-minute tour through the 846-meter street.

"Of course, it's neither for public transportation nor making profits, but giving an opportunity for visitors to have an experience of old time," said Tian. "However, the ticket price is yet to be decided."

Qianmen Street: Yesterday once more
The combo photo shows a Diang-diang vehicle (L) and its interior outlook. []

"I would like to try the 'diang-diang' vehicle, because I don't know much about it, except for what I learned from old pictures," said a young girl, Liu Fang, who was born in Beijing and now works for a travel agency.

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