On weekends, simple and unsophisticated residents – especially the elderly, in twos and threes – spend their leisure time in the old alleys off Taiping Street. Their lives are so carefree that the street's scene feels like a static painting.

Rich in stories, the old street is located in the southern part of Changsha's old town. The block is bordered by Wuyi Avenue on the north, Jiefang Road on the south, Weiguo Street on the west, and Sanxing Street and Santai Street on the east. With a total area of 12.57 hectares, 375 meters in length and only 7 meters in width, the fishbone-shaped block hasn't change at all over the past 200 years.

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Since the Warring States periods (475 or 403-221BC), Taiping Street has been the center of Changsha. It was the location of a number of famous residences during the Qin (221-207BC) and the Han (202BC-220AD) Dynasties. Patriotic poet Quyuan (340-278BC) and Counselor Jiayi, a conspicuous statesman and writer during West Han Dynasty also lived here.

Among the historical sites that can be found here are the former residence of Jiayi, the site of mansion of Prince Mingji of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and the site of Progressive Society, founded during 1911 Revolution. Over hundreds of years, it has been a thriving commercial center, and regarded as the carrier of Hunan folk customs and traditions. Since the Jiaqing period (1796-1820) in the Qing Dynasty, it has been a central rendezvous point for businessmen. Stores such as Lisheng Salt Shop, Laotongyi Paint Shop, Liangyisheng Inn, Mobil Bank, and the Farmer's Bank have offices here. As the location of Changsha's wholesale market, Taiping Street is also regarded as the busiest area in Changsha proper.

The Street is the epitome of ancient Changsha. It's easy to notice the antique architectures built along the street. The buildings are characterized by small grey tiles, pitched roofs, white ridge tiles, fire seals, wooden doors and windows, stone gates, grey brick walls, roofless inner courtyards, and guardrails. Nowadays, the shops and old-styled residences along the street still maintain their older look.

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  • The Changsha Fire of 1938 – also known as Wenxi Fire – burned down part of Taiping Street's buildings and historical sites. The street has been renovated several times since 1949, and each new generation reinvigorates the street. The renovated street takes on the old street pattern of Qing Dynasty, the living outlook of Republic of China, and the ordinary life scenes of modern residents. Using a potpourri of harmonious cultural displays, the street has gradually become a new venue for sightseeing, doing business and publicizing history and culture.

    The past and the present coexist harmoniously. The new Taiping Street keeps the architecture, street patterns and the overall layout of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and carries on past cultural and commercial contexts. It simultaneously becomes the cradle of 1911 Revolution, and the carrier of business and folk traditions.

    Rich in cultural resources, possessing a profound culture foundation and unique culture atmosphere, the new Taiping Street takes on the scene and culture it once had, providing tourists with a relaxing aura and shops rich in culture. On the other hand, it is also a site for further development. Here, it perfectly interprets the balance between development and preservation, environment and culture, and social and economic growth.
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  • The oblique rays of the sun shine on the granite road and fire wall, but not to the bottom of the deep Changhuai Well. The 1,000-year-old Taiping Street is now experiencing its daytime bustle. Walking along the street youself, you may find that you are going back to ancient times. It seems that all shops run 200 years in the past. They are living and thriving in the time of great peace and prosperity. However, modern life still penetrates these touches of the past: shops selling personalized boutiques, Indian decorations and ornaments, hand-made puppets, CDs, as well as an increasing number of bars, These qualities make the Street the very place for the young and robust.

The old street is the root of a city which carries forward the city's culture and history. Taiping Street fabulously displays Changsha's thousand-year-old tradition. Today's Taiping Street is fast becoming the new landmark and a new name card of Changsha, which fully demonstrates the glamour of Huxiang Culture and embodies Changsha's ancient flavor.

  • Translated by Liu Pingbo
  • Chinese script edited by Wang Wei,Zang Jie
  • English script edited by Chris
  • Design by Miao Lin