The Ancient Cultural Street is located in the Nankai District of Tianjin and was formally opened in 1986. It is located on the west bank of the Hai River, with Tianhou Temple as its geographical centre. The street features replica classical architecture in the folk style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) which houses some rather tacky arts and crafts shops and such like but still makes for a pleasant enough walk.
The Old Town of Tianjin lies to the west of the Hai River and was once enclosed by a wall. It features a few old relics that still survive today such as a Drum Tower, Confucian Temple, the Guangdong Guild Hall and the Tianhou Temple.
This fascinating museum is housed within the Drum Tower in the Old town. It details by photos and models the future of urban planning in the city plus shows what the different areas of the city once looked like before they were demolished to make way for new apartment blocks. What I found interesting were the photos showing people taking all their processions on the backs of trucks to their new homes and then being shown how to operate things like hot water boilers. In fact when I visited in May 2008 there was a lot of construction happening all around the Drum Tower and Old Town.
This museum, in the Old Town near the Drum Tower, is located in the former house of Xu Puan who used to work for the British Chartered Bank. It was built in the early years of the 20th century and has been preserved as a typical example of a residence in the Old Town. The museum opened in 2004 to mark the 600th anniversary of Tianjin City and exhibits ceramics, furniture and architectural features plus a large scale model of what the Old Town would have once looked like.
This pedestrianised street runs through the Old Town to the Drum Tower. It's lined with old looking buildings selling books, posters, arts & crafts, souvenirs and such like plus is home to a church built in 1934 and the Tianjin Old City Museum.
This small Confucian Temple was built in 1436 and is located on the eastern side of the Old Town. The sacrifice ceremony for Confucius in spring and autumn was held here during the Ming and Qing dynasties until the early years of National Government. It was closed for what looked like renovation work when I visited in May 2008.
This drawbridge was built in 1927 and links the old concession areas with the main train station. The 96.7-metre double-leaf bascule bridge can be drawn apart in the middle in three minutes to accommodate traffic on the Haihe River.
Located at one end of a pedestrianised shopping street, this Romanesque styled catholic cathedral was built by French missionaries in 1917. It has a length of 60 metres and a width of 30 metres. The twin bell towers on its facade rise 47 metres into the air. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution and then again by the Tang Shan earthquake in 1976. It was then extensively restored in 1979 and was officially re-opened on the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption on August 15th 1980.
The British merchants Butterfield & Swire was founded in 1866 with its headquarters in Shanghai. The Tianjin branch opened in 1881 and specialised in the import and export trade. This building was constructed in 1895.
Jardine Matheson & Co Ltd was the first British firm that sold opium to China and had its headquarters on The Bund in Shanghai. The Tianjin branch opened in 1867 as the largest foreign company in Tianjin. This building was built in 1921 with a huge Corinthian column at each side.
In order to fight against the foreign savings banks, Salt Industry Bank, Kinchen Bank, China & South Sea Bank Ltd and Continental Bank co-operated together to establish this bank in 1923 with its headquarters in Shanghai. The building was constructed in 1923.
The China & South Sea Bank was founded in Shanghai in 1921. The Tianjin branch was founded in 1922 and was the only bank to be authorised by the Beijing government to issue bills. In 1953 the bank was transformed to a joint operated organisation. The building was built in the early 20th century and was later expanded in 1938.
The Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Corporation was founded in Hong Kong in 1864. As the first foreign-invested bank in Tianjin, HSBC Tianjin branch was set up in 1881. The bank was then cleared in 1954. The building was built in 1925 by designers Atkinson & Dallas with twelve distinctive Ionic columns at the front. It now houses the Bank of China.
The Yokohama Specie Bank Ltd was founded in 1880 with its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan. The Tianjin branch was founded in 1899 and specialised in foreign exchange, deposition and loans in order to back up the merchandise input from Japan to North China. After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, it was taken over by the Bank of China. The buildings was built in 1926, designed by Atkinson & Dallas.
In 1856, Chinese soldiers boarded The Arrow, a Chinese-owned ship registered in Hong Kong flying the British flag and suspected of piracy, smuggling and of being engaged in the opium trade. They captured 12 men and imprisoned them. In response, the British and French sent gunboats under the command of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour to capture the Dagu forts near Tianjin in May 1858. At the end of the first part of the Second Opium War in June of the same year, the Treaties of Tianjin were signed, which opened Tianjin to foreign trade. The treaties were ratified by the Emperor of China in 1860, and Tianjin was formally opened to the outside world. Between 1895 and 1900, Britain and France were joined by Japan, Germany and Russia, and even by countries without other Chinese concessions such as Austria-Hungary, Italy and Belgium, in establishing self-contained concessions in Tianjin, each with its own prisons, schools, barracks and hospitals.
The concession areas were to the south of the main train station along Jiefang Beilu and either side of the Hai River and west of the train station up to the old town area. Here you'll find some wonderful buildings such as banks, warehouses, consulates, churches and public buildings.