Chongqing (1937-1946) / Post-improvisation: Renewal and Transformation of the Road System

Before the Anti-Japanese War, Chongqing had started its expansion and transformation. The process was slow, however, because of the resistance of all stakeholders, especially the new road development. It was not until the wartime when Chongqing became the temporary capital that Chongqing accelerated in the process of modernization.

During wartime, the government continued with its effort in urban renewal and transformation in Chongqing. The air attack by the Japanese army had destroyed many parts of the city’s original construction and facilities, which brought about huge challenge but opportunities as well to the urban renewal of the city, as there were much less resistance from the citizens. In June, 1939 during the period with most severe bomb attacks, the government issued the first set of regulations on urban planning of modern China (都市规划法). In September, 1940, the government issued another set of urban planning outlines (都市营建计划纲要) which direct against the bomb attack. In February, 1941, the Chongqing Construction and Planning committee (陪都建设计划委员会) was founded and the committee carried out the Chongqing City Road System Plan (重庆市城区道路系统计划).

The plan focused on two aspects. The first part of the plan was to develop roads that link the old city and suburban area. The suburban area used to consist of graveyard and privately owned lands. The expansion of the road system had met with great resistance before wartime. During wartime, the government was able to carry out the plan and developed three main roads that led to the new city and suburbs with branch roads accessing the main roads.

The second part of the plan was to further widen the roads in the old city. The fire alleys developed against bomb attacks which were 15 meters wide became the major traffic arteries. They were planned to be widen to 22 m or 18 m. In addition to the major roads, a few other roads were planned and the twisting roads were made straight. The widths of the roads were standardized to 22 m, 18 m and 15 m. The height of the houses along the roads were also regulated according to the width of the roads in order to meet the requirements of sunlight, natural light, ventilation, fire protection, greenery, pipeline arrangement and so on.

The expansion and standardization of the road system during the wartime has entirely changed the narrow and twisting urban space of the old Chongqing and laid the foundation of the construction of a modern Chongqing. The standards and plans set up during the wartime were continued after the war.

Fig.1 Chongqing street view during wartime

Fig.2 Chongqing street view during wartime


  1. Xie Xuan, Study on the Urban Construction and Planning of Chongqing (1947-1949), PhD diss, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 2011, China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House.
  2. Tang Shourong, Air Defense in Chongqing during Anti-Japanese War, (Chongqing: Chongqing Press,1995)
  3. 重庆市人民防空办公室编. 重庆市防空志. 重庆:西南大学出版社, 1994.
  4. Chongqing Editing Committee on Wartime Matters, Chongqing Kang Zhan Da Shi Ji 重庆抗战大事记, (Chongqing: Chongqing Press, 1995).
  1. Long Bin and Zhao Yao, 《陪都十年建设计划草案》的制订及规划评述, 西部人居环境学刊, Issue 5, 2005, pp.100-106.

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