Chongqing (1937-1946) / Post-Improvisation: Rural Construction and Satellite Cities

Chongqing (1937-1946) / Post-Improvisation: Rural Construction and Satellite Cities

To meet the demand of air defense during wartime, National Government issued the Urban Construction Plan in September 1940. The Plan listed out regulations on site selection for relocation, along with planning and construction method of the relocation site. When the plan was promulgated, massive evacuation from Chongqing city had already begun. However, the plan was still helpful to some extent on guiding suburban development, like the construction of suburban markets.

This process of massive evacuation not only preserved abundant resources for later period of the war, but also provided a precious opportunity for the suburban area to thrive. With the help of relocated industries all over the country, the great Chongqing region began to develop quickly, and many satellite cities emerged around the center.

  • The expansion of Chongqing City

With the development of relocation zones, the boundary of the city also expanded gradually. In Ten Years’ Draft Plan for the Development of Chongqing, the development of Chongqing was divided into 6 periods (Figure 1):

  1. Since Han Dynasty, the center of Chongqing has been found where the two rivers confluence. In the very beginning, the city center was located around today Shaanxi Street and Linsen Road, since it was close to the river for the convenience of transportation and irrigation.
  2. Highways were excavated and a water plant was established within the city. Since then population gravity began to shift from Shaanxi Street to Duyou Street.
  3. In 1926AD, Tongyuan-men Highway was built, and downtown area was marked. In year 1928 a new downtown area was marked, covering an area of 8 square kilometers.
  4. In 1929AD, city government of Chongqing was established. The government redefined the urban area, this time including Baxian county, Jiangbei affiliated counties and Five Great Ponds in Nan’an, covering a total area of 93.5 square kilometers.
  5. In 1937AD, Chongqing became provisional capital of China. Industries immigrated from the east were now relocated to a vast area around Chongqing, expanding the span of the city into a 300 km2
  6. From Beibei in the north to the Hotspring in the south, from Guangyang Dam in the east to Baishi-yi in the west, the great capital area covers an area as large as 1940 km2 including myriad relocation zones scattered around the old city.

    Figure 1. The Expansion Process of Chongqing City
  • Relocation promoted multiple satellite cities around Chongqing

Under the shadow of continuous air raid, not only residents needed to be evacuated from the urban area, but also those government offices, factories and schools migrated west earlier. In March 1939, KMT Central Committee set up a Relocation and Construction Committee to command unit relocation. Compared to evacuation of civilians, the relocation of offices, factories and schools had a much greater impact on the development of suburban areas. These units bring along with them resources and demand, which enabled the evacuated crowd to settle nearby and form new clusters. Along Yangtze River and Jialing River, Chengyu Highway and Chuanqian Highway, a series of relocation spots developed into multiple centers with specific functions. Units arrived later would then naturally gather around these centers.

In the early period of anti-Japanese war, the north shore thrived due to its proximity to the rivers, and became home to a variety of factories. During this time, many markets and piers formed in the north shore area, making it an important industrial base for Chongqing. As the war went tense, the south shore developed rapidly due to its convenient location for land transportation and became an important distribution center. Many relocation centers grew into market areas with dense housing, busy factories and shops. Some even reached the primary scale of a modern city. In general, the relocation of factories in both north and south shore areas set up a sound foundation for multiple satellite cities that appeared around Chongqing later.


  1. Zhang Gong, The History of Chongqing as Capital City of the National Government of China (Chongqing: Xi’nan University Press, 1993).
  2. Committee on History of Chongqing, History of Chinese National Government in the Provisional Capital of Chongqing, (Chongqing: Southwest Normal University Press, 1993)
  3. Xie Xuan, Study on the Urban Construction and Planning of Chongqnig (1947-1949), PhD diss, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 2011, China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House.
  4. Wu Tai-chang, Modern Development Strategies for the Yangtze River Region, (China Financial and Economic Publishing House,1996)
  5. Zhang Yabin and Wang Zhaohui, Military Industry Migration Implementation Process in Chongqing during the Anti-Japanese War, Journal of Chengdu University of Technology: Social Sciences (2014), Vol.22(06), pp.71-76

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