Xiahao Old Street – A Living Chronicle of Chongqing’s History and Revival

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Nestled in the heart of Chongqing’s Nan’an District, adjacent to the bustling Nanbin Road, lies a hidden gem known as Xiahao Old Street (下浩老街). Perched on a sloping hillside, this historic neighborhood is in close proximity to the majestic East Water Gate Yangtze River Bridge. Xiahao Old Street is not just a singular thoroughfare; it encompasses Xiahao Main Street, Juelin Temple, Mi Market Street, Wang’er Tower, Grape Courtyard, and several charming alleys. It is said that this area began to take shape as a vibrant marketplace during the Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong period.

Connecting directly to the Yangtze River, Xiahao Old Street played a vital role in the city’s commerce. Before the era of liberation, Longmenhao Old Wharf, located nearby, served as a versatile dock for both passengers and cargo. Anyone journeying from the wharf to Shangxin Street, Xiahao Main Street, or Dongjia Bridge would inevitably traverse this lively district. Additionally, the renowned Juelin Temple, a Buddhist sanctuary of great historical significance in the Ba-Yu region, was also nestled within this vibrant community, making Xiahao a thriving hub a century ago.

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However, in the subsequent years, Xiahao Old Street gradually fell into decline, fading from the public eye. Its resurgence would come from an unexpected source – Ms. Ao Wei, who was not a native of the area. In 2014, her passion for history drew her to the architectural and lifestyle charms of Xiahao Old Street, prompting her to move here and open a small teahouse. Upon relocating, Ao Wei embraced a “slow life” philosophy, tending to daily chores such as grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, and pruning the rooftop garden. As she puts it, she was only a step away from chopping wood and feeding horses.

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One day, her neighbor peered over and remarked, “Young lady, your garden is so beautiful; could you help me create one too?” With a vacant lot nearby, Ao Wei had a brilliant idea—why not create a communal garden for the neighborhood? She envisioned that even if the old street were to be demolished, she could make sure the residents enjoyed a beautiful life until then. Thus, she joined forces with friends to launch an online crowdfunding campaign. Her lifestyle, intertwined with the history of the old street, captivated numerous netizens. In just a few weeks, she had raised over 7,000 yuan. This initiative also caught the attention of the Xiahao Street Neighborhood Committee, prompting them to hold a “Resident Autonomy Launch Ceremony,” rallying community members to contribute to the development of the heart of the street—the community garden.

Ao Wei and Xiahao Old Street became household names. On June 15, 2016, the Old Street Garden project officially commenced. Ao Wei and her friends erected fences, planted greenery, and invited artists and children to create colorful graffiti on the weathered walls of the old street. They even repurposed discarded windows and benches into captivating art installations. On July 17, 2016, Ao Wei was invited to speak at TED, a globally renowned lecture series, held in Chongqing. Her heartfelt narration of Xiahao Old Street’s story reached a wider audience. She became known as the “Southern Heroine.” Xiahao Old Street, once again, thrived, exuding its unique charm.

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Today, Xiahao Old Street stands as a living testament to Chongqing’s rich history and the power of community-driven revitalization. Ao Wei’s dedication and vision have breathed new life into this historical gem, preserving its heritage for future generations. As visitors stroll along the cobblestone streets, they can sense the whispers of the past and the vibrancy of a neighborhood that refused to be forgotten. Xiahao Old Street is not just a place; it’s a narrative of resilience, reinvention, and the enduring spirit of Chongqing.

Video about Xiahao Old Street

Attractions near Xiahao Old Street

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