Huangjueya old street of Chongqing rejuvenated
CHONGQING (CQNEWS) -- “Listening to the hilarious laughter of the tourists, I’m the happiest man in the world.” Zhang Xueqin, the owner of a Dried Tofu Shop on Huangjueya Old Street, opened the shop very early in the morning of May 23, 2023, only to find quite a few customers waiting there already.
“We came here for morning exercises and heard about the great reputation of your dried Tofu, and we just waited to buy some home.” “You’re welcome! As the start of today’s business, I’d like to offer you some discount!” Just among the conversation between the shop owner and the customer, a busy day on Huangjueya Old Street begins.
“The booming of my business has totally benefited from the protective maintenances to the Old Street carried out by the government. The street becomes so beautiful that our culture is rejuvenated and tourists are all drawn here, naturally our business starts to boom.” Zhang Xueqin said, smiling. Currently she has opened a branch with a monthly sales volume exceeding 30,000.00 yuan.
The Street on which Echo lived once became “Old”
Huangjueya Old Street can be traced as back as to a time between Tang and Song Dynasties, when it was a place for the porters and caravan to take a rest, and the barracks station of the government. Later on, with Chongqing’s opening as a port, this place gradually developed into a bustling street market lined with numerous shops, and people lived and worked here everafter.
Yunnan Money King Wang Zhi, Celebrity Li Kuian in Politics, Business and Culture, Yan Yangchu, a civilian educator and the famous writer Echo have all lived here once.
Yet Huangjueya Old Street finally got “sick” as time passing by with the updating and development of the city: the narrow street, naked and messy electric wires, long-in-disrepair wooden houses, quite a few have been classified into C or D degree dangerous buildings, with hidden security risks and not good-looking.
More than 20 households squeezed into this two-storied private building, improvised kitchens and restrooms intertwined into each other on the corridor and beside the patio. Years of kitchen fume has faded the color of the building itself. Rain leakage and poor drainage has seriously corroded the wood, even the wooden frame of the building itself has tilted.
The wooden house that young Echo has once lived is also broken, with wooden plates missing, all walls cracking. It’s literally a dangerous house.
Comprehensive maintenances make the Old Street rejuvenated
Since 2016, CCP Committee and government of Nan’an District decided for fund raising for comprehensive maintenances and repair for the Old Street, adhering to large-scale protection and not engaging in large-scale demolition and construction, pay full respect to history and culture, and protect, discover and promote it. The main purpose should be repair and restoration of the original appearance of residential buildings, supplemented by the restoration and reconstruction of a small number of historical buildings. Except for D degree dangerous buildings, which should be demolished and reconstructed, others should all be kept for their original structure to retain its original dwellers, and realize street block renewal and integration of the new and the old.
“Huangjueya Old Street as a whole, is 600m long with floor area of 30,000 square meters, in total there are 175 residences of Bayu area and former residences and heritages which features a unique style.” Liao Jing, Administrative Office Director of Chongqing Huangge Antient Road Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. said that her company carried out a traditional style transformation of the façade of the original building in phases and batches. According to requirement of an integrated tune, distinguishing styles, colorful and distinctive characteristics, combine the Old Street elements and the fashion elements into one.
Meanwhile, this transformation project also carried out protective restoration of “Former Residence of Li Kuian”, “Former Residence of Echo” and “Former Residence of Yan Yangchu” and other historical buildings (dangerous buildings). By way of a restoration to its original appearance in its original place, we tried our best to retain its original strip stone foundation, strip stone retaining wall, brick and wood walls, wooden beams and columns, carved doors and windows and other building materials.
“To retain it culture to its maximum, we kept the original strip stone and bricks and walls untouched for restoration of ‘Former Residence of Li Kuian’. But we had the difficulty with the old carved wooden plates. Originally it used fir wood, which easily gets corroded, plus the kitchen fume year round by the, household, some carving has almost faded away and the whole plate became shaky,” Liao Jing said. To restore the elaborate carving, the restoration team flied to Zhejiang 6 times within one month to communicate with the Highly skilled local craftsmen. The carving presented now has retained its original pattern to its maximum while integrated typical patterns from the same period. It's a work of art indeed.
Rejuvenation of the Old Street “Connecting the past and the present”
“On the National Day of 2019, restoration and repair project of the main street of 600m has comprehensively completed with total investment of 350 million yuan,” Liao Jing said.
Besides restoration, Nan’an District also pays much attention to the management of operation of the Old Street. Circling an integrated target of “design, construction and operation”, we fully sorted out the state quo of the publicly owned housing on the Old Street, and created a commercial Old Street which integrates business, travel, culture and other functions into one, and refurbished 12 buildings lined the old street, 3 public welfare supporting utilities and 1 pavilion etc. greatly improved the “face value” of the Old Street.
Now, a walk on the Old Street can find calligraphy and painting exhibition, porcelain exhibition, hepticord exhibition lined the street. The strip stone and green bricks, bird cages, carving on the beam and painting on the wall of the “Former Residence of Li Kuian”, all give a strong sense of age. Every corner is bringing the tourists back to the old days. “Former Residence of Echo” also became the most famous punch point on Huangjueya Old Street, with many fans of Echo drawn here from thousands of miles away. The Old Street also has won the honorary titles of "the most beautiful street in Chongqing" and the first batch of "municipal leisure blocks" etc. successively.
“Currently, daily reception of tourists of the Old Street has exceeded 10,000 people. It has become a well-known leisure tourism scenic spot in Chongqing. Later on, we will upgrade the cultural tourism on the Old Street and further enhance its propaganda and marketing, and realize ‘Huangjueya with thousands of years of history, connecting the past and the present by one street’,” said the relevant charge person from Nan’an District Culture and Tourism Committee. (Translated by Xie Congxiao, Fathom Language Limited)