I discovered this place when I was studying at Tsinghua University in 2007-2008. Wudaokou area is essentially composed of multistorey department stores and modern residential compounds. And yet, at the time, there were still some one-storey village houses and… one real hutong! The hutong still exists today. Hidden in the big city, one can be surprised to find an old Beijing-style narrow street, with its familiar atmosphere: retail shops, trees, chairs on the sidewalk… That’s very unconventional in Wudaokou.
In the heart of this small traditional area, there is an even more amazing discovery, a piece of Beijing history: Tsinghua Yuan Railway station (清华园火车站), which seems protected from demolition.
The architectural design of the building is quite typical of the beginning of the 20th century.
It was founded in 1910 as the first railway station on the Imperial Peking-Kalgan Railway, which is now called the « Jingzhang » Railway (京张). This line was constructed between 1905 and 1909, connecting Beijing with Zhangjiakou (Kalgan) via the Badaling Great Wall area. This section was the first railway designed and built by a Chinese engineer, Zhan Tianyou. The line was extended to Hohhot in 1921 and to Baotou by 1923. In the 1950s, the Fengsha railway was built as an alternative route, to avoid the steep gradient of the former line. In the 1950s, because of the extension of Tsinghua University campus, Tsinghua Yuan railway station was transferred Southeast, 500 meters from the former spot. Today, the station is not really an « abandoned » place, it is inhabited. I did not go in people’s houses, I just visited from outside but maybe it would be worth asking the residents about this place. I bet a lot of them know about it.
However, according to newspaper articles, two events are important to notice about this place as they bring a lot of change.
First of all, in October 2016, the new Tsinghua Yuan Railway station was planned to be definitely closed at the end of the month, stopping the very nice ritual of trains passing through the Wudaokou area.
And secondly, in April 2017, the old Tsinghua Yuan Railway station was targeted for demolition, which I hope will not happen for real. However, the news article seems to have used my photos without quoting the real reference to this blog, that is not nice, people…