Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hatamen Station


I’m doing some research for a project around the Dongbianmen Qiao, or Fox Tower, in Peking at the moment. It’s an interesting area out on the edge of the distinctly less interesting Second Ring Road. The tower is one of the best preserved and houses the Red Gate Gallery, which despite being a good space is always deserted, badly lit and boring whenever I happen to visit. Still, at least it’s still there and you can’t say that about most of the old towers and gates of Peking.

What most people casually visiting don’t realize is that the railway line that runs out of Beijing station past the Fox Tower and that last few hundred meters of surviving Tartar Wall used to be on the other side of the wall. Where the line is now was a ditch with water and ducks on it. A train service ran round the walls of Peking and stopped at a station by the wall called Hatamen which linked with Hatamen Street which ran through the middle of the old Legation Quarter.

What I had never noticed before while walking from the Fox Tower along the Tartar Wall towards the Legation Quarter was that the station house still exists and looks as if it might have just dropped in from some branch line in the Lake District or Suffolk. Now it’s effectively marooned and has a little coffee shop that sells pretty bad coffee and a couple of tables outside. But still this is Hatamen Station and somehow it has survived the vandals’ axe in Peking.

Made my day did that!!

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The tower is one of the best preserved and houses the Red Gate Gallery, which despite being a good space is always deserted, badly lit and boring whenever I happen to visit. Still, at least it’s still there and you can’t say that about most of the old towers and gates of Peking.
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