Author(s): Wang Jianguo, Yang Junyan, Chen Haining
Abstract / Introduction (download full article at the bottom)
In the ancient imes, there was no express delivery as we have today. Instead, the ancestors pursued the goals of quicker and safer conveyance of goods by using waterways and ships. Where a waterway went, there resources, fortunes and cultures would be. Canals, developed in the form of human-made waterways, relected the society’s wisdom and strength for survival, and usually embody outstanding engineering technologies. Canals emerged in response to the requirements of urban development and they breed and spread brilliant civilizaions in their eras. Today, even though some or parts of these civilizaions have been destroyed, intangible wealth remains along the canal paths.
While canal construction was undertaken at a naional level to facilitate national city-building and strategic objectives, there also were substantial cultural effects. Canal development greatly influenced the lives of the broad masses of people in communities along their routes. For instance, the commercial wealth of the canal promoted the growth of attracive and gorgeous street cultures in towns and cities along the canals. The administration of the canal nurtured the historic Chinese system of the scholar-bureaucrat class. In fact, some historians contend that the cultural side efect of the Grand Canal was similar to that of City States in Medieval Italy, where the rich culture in Florence and other cities led to a Renaissance in Europe (Zheng, 1986; Chen, 2013). Canals brought about economic development, social change, cultural diversity, and other changes which had profound impacts on urban development patern of later eras.
The Grand Canal, which is also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. It is the longest man-made canal in the world with a length of 1,776 kilometers (1,104 miles). Its origin can date back to the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 BC) in Chinese history, when King Fuchai of Wu dug the Han Canal as part of a plan to push his army northward to conquer the Central Plain (Hsu, 1999).
Publication: ISOCARP Review 13, pp. 160-179
Editors: Shi Nan, Jim Reilly, Fran Klass
Coordinator: Lucian Perici
Graphic Designer: Ricardo Moura