Beijing History

Beijing has a history as long and as rich as that of China as a whole. After the unification of China by the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty. In 221 BC Beijing, then known as Ji was named the capital of the country. It was at this time that construction of the Great Wall was started, taking 10 years to complete.

Since this time, Beijing has seen several name changes, finally named Beijing in 1421 by Ming Dynasty Emperor Cheng Zu. Officially, the Western World new the city as Peking, until it was officially changed to Beijing in 1949.

There have been several political changes in the area as well, with several emperors and several dynasties making Beijing their home before the monarchy was removed in the early 20th century. Of these Dynasties, perhaps the best known (to the Western World) is the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), who were responsible for the construction of the Ming Tombs (50km North of Beijing), the rebuilding of the Great Wall, the construction of the Forbidden City, and several other notable landmarks within the area around Beijing. This dynasty is also renowned as having produced some of the most beautiful pottery and sculpture from this time in human history.

For more than 2 100 years, Beijing remained the capitol of China until Qing Emperor Puyi was forced to abdicate the throne in 1911, when the new political powers thought the establishment of a new capital of their choosing would strengthen their regime.

During the late 1920's Beijing became home to China's first large scale labour movement, when the streetcar service displaced hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Rickshaw Men who were then seen largely as lower class citizens with few rights. Several large riots, many of which were violent ensued before a settlement was reached that allowed the Rickshaw drivers to work in areas not serviced by the streetcars and raised the streetcar prices to allow the Rickshaw Men the ability to compete for customers.

Beijing was reinstated as the Capital of the People's Republic of China in the year 1949. Since this time, the city has been focussed on moving forward into the future, while preserving and celebrating it's rich history. New buildings have been designed to compliment the ancient ones they neighbour, creating a stunning tableau of Beijing's long reign as a political powerhouse in China.