In this “heritage trail”, we have included six different sites, including Bai Lin Si, the Horse God Temple on Zang Jing Guan Hutong, Paoju Prison, the Coal Factory on Hou Yong Kang Hutong, the Grey Building on Hou Yong Kang Er Xiang Hutong, and the two courtyard houses on Bei Xin Qiao San Tiao Hutong. All these sites locate within the hutong neighborhoods in Yong He Gong area. Biking is a nice way to travel from one site to another, and walking is not far either.
We have chosen these six sites because they all have unique characteristics as compared with other sites, but they have, on the other hand, totally different values in historical, cultural and social aspect. There are national level heritage sites, and there are municipal level protected courtyards, but most of the others seem not so relevant to “cultural heritage”. So why we have chosen them? The reason is simple, they either highly symbolize the lifestyle of a generation of Beijing local residents in a historical era, or they connect closely with the social life of the local community.
The Coal Factory was chosen because of its irreplaceable function to provide heating of the whole community. In our “text”, we are going to talk about the current coal usage, as well as how the coal bricks are being delivered and stored.
As for the Horse God Temple, you will learn about the story of an old man who has been living there for almost his entire life and every piece of brick in his house is meaningful to him, and every piece of tile tells about his memorable past.
The Paoju Prison has been in existence since the mid Qing Dynasty, but very few people know that its biggest significance is to serve as a live evidence of the Anti-Japanese War. Quite a few Chinese generals were in prison here in the 1930’s before or during the Japanese occupation.
Grey Building was considered upscale accommodation in 1950’s, but only 50 years later, the world has been turned almost upside down. The life of those who live there tells some untold story of their privileged past.
The two courtyards on Bei Xin Qiao San Tiao Hutong has the most mysterious building in this area – a Peking Opera Rehearsal Hall, which tells us the glorious past of a five generation noble family.
Bai Li Si is an important cultural heritage site, but its history and its present are both fun to learn.
What is worth mentioning is that, all these six sites are surveyed at the help of some local residents, and their oral history formed the foundation of our heritage trail. Supplemented with the official archives, we have thus finished the six stories on this trail, which intended to document how these buildings are being used in the past, and how they were memorized by the local residents, and how they are being used in the modern context.