[3] Tianjin Historical Development of Road network

Ancient Tianjin

Tianjin Old City

Sancha estuary is the place of origin of ancient Tianjin. Tianjin was developed around Tianjin old town and along the South Canal and Heihe River. There has no obvious road network or planning regarding to the road construction.

Ancient Tianjin

Road construction During Concessions in Tianjin (1860-1945)

Italian Concession

Italian Concession

The urban roads in Tianjin old town (Tianjin Wei and concession) is both north-south and east-west or parallel and vertical to the Heihe river.  The road traffic construction in Tianjin started earlier because of the establishment of the concession. In 1914, the Italian ambassador in Tianjin, Captain Filete, cooperated with Exxonmobil to build the first asphalt road in Tianjin. (Before: Corso Vittorio Emanuele Now:Tianjin Jianguo Road). Filete Captain filled up the swamps and marsh lands with sludge digged from Heihe River. He then carefully did a survey and planning regarding to the land use of Italian Concession for further construction. After the construction of  Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Captain Filete began to change all the roads to asphalt roads. Hence, Italian concession was the first concession to complete asphalt pavement construction.

The road network during concessions could be described as “三縱七橫” (Three vertical roads and seven horizontal roads). The three vertical roads includes, Via Trieste (Sheng Li Rd), Via Marco Polo (Minzu Rd), Via Firenze (Minsheng Rd); and the seven horizontal roads consist of Corso Vittorio Emanuele (Jian Guo Rd), Via Vincenzo Rossi (Minzuo Rd), Via Conte Gallina (Guangfu Rd) etc. 

The British concession in Tianjin was not large in the early period, with only 3 north-south roads, including Vitoria Rd, The Bund and Taku Road. There were eight east-west roads but all of them were short. After the expansion of concession at the end of 19th century, more than 70 streets were built in succession. 

After world war II

Urban area was growing rapidly after 1949, the road network was expanded significantly based on the original network. Hundred of roads with irregular direction have been built, therefore it was not easy for outsiders to find the direction.

Beginning of People’s Republic of China

1955 Tinajin Map

Tianjin Urban-Rural Construction Commission proposed the first city planning after People’s Republic of China was proclaimed. It was about social reform, meaning to change the urban configuration of concession to socialist city planning. The idea of road network,the three rings and eighteen radial roads was proposed, and the concentric structure of road network was introduced during the period.

After the earthquake in 1976 

Li Ruihuan

Li Ruihuan is a Chinese politician in charging of the repair construction of Tianjin after Tangshan earthquake. He was also responsible for the water diversion project, solving the problem of water shortage in Tianjin in the early 1980. By 1983, the population density had increased steadily. Urban planning became important task during this period. Li Ruihuan received central fund for the repairment, and soon decided to change the whole of urban transport infrastructure in Tianjin. The project included three rings road and fourteen arterial roads around the city. The middle Ring Road which is about 40 km was constructed within eighteen months from 1985 to 1986. Outer Ring Road of 70 km length was built in 1987, following by inner ring road of 14 km. Other construction, for example, telecommunications, harbor expansion and railway station was completed after the construction of highway system.

Tianjin Highway System
Tianjin Road Network








胡春萌. “规划变迁:一部天津城市发展史书.” 中华建设 09 (2009): 32-35.

天津通志. 大事记 (1979-2008). 天津: 天津社会科学院出版社, 2009.

国土局. 天津城市历史地图集. 天津古籍出版社, 2004.



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