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Forbidden City

Simple iron and bronze vats were lined up along outside walls and around less important buildings. Fires were not frequent, but when they did occur, they were devastating. All of the structures in the ancient cities were wood. Open flames were everywhere, but people were ever vigilant. Lightening and earthquakes could not be planned for. The damage from fire following an earthquake was always more than that caused by the quake itself. Electricity was introduced to Beijing in 1898-1899 when the government contracted Siemens to build a generator. After that, railroads could no longer bring their engines into the city. Passengers transferred to electric trams in the suburbs. After the Boxer Rebellion, the Western powers extended the railroad line to Qianmen, south of the Forbidden City, to bring in troops.

China Index >> History of Beijing in Pictures >> Forbidden City

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Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009