If you take a walk just along main streets of Beijing, you will find almost each part of the city looks just the same. But if you walk further to some Hutongs and talk with elder citizens living in Hutongs, you will find each Hutong has its own story and even legendary history.
Hutongs in Beijing is not only the passenger paths but also the life area of normal Beijing people. The old Hutongs reflected history and changes happened to life of normal Beijing people. Some people think Hutongs as micro museums of local conditions and customs. Wandering in narrow Hutongs, items of historical interest could be found here and there. Some building bricks and tiles are even several hundred years old. From various residential quadrangles we could look into depth of Beijing citizens, including their life style, common interest and interpersonal relationship.
In the Yuan Dynasty, the Emperor ordered the construction work of chessboard-like residential area. Getting living manors from the Emperor, all governmental officials in Beijing constructed their houses according to size standard issued by court. The houses and courtyards appeared side by side in a few years. To ensure the lighting , ventilation, and enough space for to-and-fro passengers, various sized corridors were built. They were called Hutong, alley, back street and main street respectively according to their width.
Then how many Hutongs there are in Beijing? According to historical document, in the Ming Dynasty, there were 900 Hutongs inside Beijing City Wall; in the Qing Dynasty, there were over 1800 Hutongs and in the period of the Republic of China, the number was over 1900. Even after near 100 years war period, in the first years after the establishment of new China, there were still more than 2250 Hutongs left.
Currently Hutong is one of the hottest attractions in Beijng, taking a rickshaw to explore Hutongs is a unforgettable experience for all tourists in Beijing.