Narrative 2: Public transportation and Technology monopoly

The first three narratives are about analyizing history context of our group’s study object: Material Construction Project for Tianjin Special Municipality city mad by Liang Sicheng and Zhang Rui, which will be called for short as the Liang Zhang Plan.


When the Army of allied nations arrived in 1900, the Qing government escaped and terminated the governance over the Tianjin. The city wall was demolished, the concessions expanded largely ever since, and the barriers of the two major urban district were broken. In 1911, the Chinese bourgeois democratic revolution led by Dr, Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Since then, Tianjin had been most suffered from wars.

These wars had huge influence in the development of different district: the existence of extraterritorial jurisdiction made the concessions becomes a special political shelter for Chinese upper-class. Every time there is a mutiny or war, a large number of them will flee to the concessions and gradually relocated there. The increase number of Chinese stimulates the prosperity in the concessions area, and on the other hand, the old town faced severe decay.

This population movement was also fueled by the public transportation, including the completion of railway station in 1902 and the trams operated between concessions and old towns since 1906. The Belgium tram company would like to attract Chinese people to use this new public transportation to increase revenue, which is why the tram goes around the old town area.

During this period, the concessions were also developing infrastructures like electricity and water supply, as some of key events marked in the timeline. Although these companies indeed propelled the city development, they also had problem with monopoly. And this also exacerbated the gap between concessions area and old town area. This explains some of the effort in Liang Zhang’s plan that tried to catch up the development of non-concessions area and unitize the city through the planning of infrastructure including sewage, electricity, etc. In the plan, they mentioned about getting back the control over public transport from the monopoly of foreign country. This reconciles one of the six fundamentals of Liang Zhang Plan: “(The plan is) to arouse awareness and bring people together to fight imperialism and pledge to get back concessions.”

The lower left image is the 1932 Tianjin map with the public bus line and trams being marked in blue and red dotted lines: the lower right image is the public bus line and tram line designed by Liang Zhang, overlaid by the same dotted lines for comparison. We can see that in the Liang Zhang Plan, the public transportation has covered larger area rather than only concentrated in the concessions area and in between the concessions and old town area.

1 Comment on “Narrative 2: Public transportation and Technology monopoly

  1. I found this narrative particularly interesting. Transportation, energy, sewage treatment and water supply form the backbone of the a city. A smooth operation of city requires a stable supply of the above elements. The issue of combating against imperialism is still relevant today, even in Hong Kong. Liang was such an insightful thinker with his own vision which was beyond his time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.