The poverty of the institutional imagination: The case of Beijing’s moats and canals


Isham Cook

Tucheng Channel (土城沟)

Beijing’s lost water transportation system

The major river in the Beijing area, the Yongding River (1 off map), was originally too fast and prone to flooding to afford urban habitation, so the city was built some ten kilometers northeast of the river when founded in the late Liao/Jin Dynasty (mid-12th c.), and thereafter shifted further northeast in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The first moat formed a square around the city’s walls. Today, the northern section of the moat has been restored and beautified and renamed the Xiaoyue Moat (2). Its former name, Beitucheng (north wall), is now given to a stop on subway Line 10 running alongside the moat.

水系-01 (3) Beijing’s canal system within the 5th Ring Road (map by Isham Cook)

_____  existing canals and moats
………  former canals and moats
_ _ _ _  former Inner City and Imperial City walls

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