Hankou Concession

RELEASE: August-22 2017  07:21:54 CHECK: LIKE: 0

Hankou Concession (i.e. Old Concession District of Hankow), is located between Zhongshan Avenue and Yanjing Avenue in Jiang'an District, Wuhan City, Hubei province and is a collective name for Hankou British concession, Hankou Russian concession, Hankou French concession, Hankou German concession, Hankou Japanese concession and Hankou Belgian concession.

In the early twentieth century, Hankou had become a considerably large international metropolis known as "Oriental Chicago".

The total length of Hankou Concession in Binjiang District is 1088 zhang (a traditional Chinese unit of length approximately equal to 3.58 meters), with the total area of 2804.4 mu. There have been many old and classic buildings of different countries in this area, which are the historical buildings left by the western powers from the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. And now, they belong to the Major Sites Protected for their Historical and Cultural Value at the National Level.

Division of concessions

British concession, Russian concession, French concession, German concession, Japanese concession and Belgian concession.

British concession

The first concession was occupied by Britain in Hankou. Since the sixth year of Xianfeng Era of Qing Dynasty (i.e. A.D.1856), Britain and France started the Second Opium War against China to force the Qing government to sign the "Treaties of Tientsin" in 1858, specifying that ten more Chinese ports would be opened for foreign trade, including Hankou. At the end of 1856, the British imperialist warships invaded Wuhan, and in 1861, Britain dispatched persons to conclude treaties with Guan Wen who was the governor-general of Hu-Guang of the Qing Dynasty to delimit the scope of its concession. The treaties specified that "the area starts from Hualou Lane (around today’s Jianghan Road) on the river shore of Hankow Town" 8 zhang eastward to the east corner of Jiangdika of Ganlu Temple (today’s Hezuo Road), with a total length of 250 zhang, and further extends for 110 zhang (today’s Junyang Street)...with a total area of 458.08 mu,", and an annual land and poll tax of 92 taels 6 maces 7 candareens 3 cashes 1 hao was paid as symbolic payment, and "this area will be permanently leased to the British government". In 1898, the "Expansion Treaty" was concluded, grabbing the land from Junyang Street to Zhongshan Avenue and from Nandong Road to Hezuo Road, with an area of 337.05mu.


Hankou Concession


In 1901, Miller (a British man) colluded with Liu Xiang who was a comprador of Banque de lIndochine and a so-called "King of Land for Building" to rob a vast tract of land from Junyang Street to Zhongshan Avenue and from Jianghan Road to Nanjing Road and build a 4m-high wall extending from Jianghan Road to Hezuo Road, where Zhongshan Avenue was included; furthermore, iron fences were built on the crossings of Jianghan Road, Yanjiang Avenue, Huangpi Street and Hualou Street respectively, so that a square "state within a state" was built in China. The British Consulate was established in a residential area in Hezuo Road, which was adjacent to the river. In order to prevent the insatiable desire of imperialists, we Chinese citizens constructed a 220m-long street called "Baohua Street" along the line from Nanjing Road to Lihuangpi Road, where the British concession was located.

In early 1927, the January 3 Massacre occurred in front of Hankow Customs, in which some Chinese citizens were shot dead by British sailors, so the angry soldiers and civilians of Wuhan fight back, and consequently, the British concession was regained. The third Special Zone was set up.

Russian Concession

In the twenty-second year of Guangxu Era of Qing Dynasty (i.e. A.D. 1897), Russia and France required the Qing government to jointly select an area in Hankou to establish their concessions on the pretext of "helping" the Qing Dynasty to force Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula. Russia and France agreed that Russia occupied 1/3 of this area and France occupied 1/3 of this area. These two countries separately signed treaties with the Qing government. The area jointly selected by them extended from Hezuo Road (formerly called "Jiexian Road", which joined the British concession) to Yiwu Road, with the total length of 288 zhang, i.e. from the riverside to Zhongshan Avenue. Russia occupied 2/3 of this area, with a length of 192 zhang, i.e. from Hezuo Road to the east section of Chezhan Road (formerly called Wilson Road in the French concession). However, within Dongting Street, the Russian concession was only extended to the line slightly below Huangpi Road. Therefore, the plan of the whole Russian concession was like a capitalized "L", with an area of 414.65 mu with an annual land and poll tax of 83 taels 4 candareens 2 cashes (silver).


Hankou Concession


The Russian consulate was set up in the premises of today’s Hubei Film Company (next to which the US consulate was located). The Russians also built an enclosure on the outside of Zhongshan Avenue, which joined the enclosure of the British concession on its starting point and was located between Huangpi Road and Huangxing Road on its ending point. In 1923, the Soviet Union returned the Russian concession to us when an agreement was made by and between China and the Soviet Union. The second Special Zone was established in China.

French concession

As specified in the original treaties, "the French concession and the Russian concession agrees that the area extends from the lower side of the British concession in Hankow Town on the west bank of the Yangtze River down to Tongji Gate (formerly called the Gate of Hankow, i.e. the crossing of today’s Yiyuan Road) along the Yangtze River, with a length of 288 zhang, and the Russian concession occupies 2/3 of this area from the lower side of the British concession and the French concession occupies 1/3 of this area from the Russian concession. The zone from the outside of the avenue (equivalent to today’s Dongting Street) to the riverside is defined as the front concession, with a length of 96 zhang. For the zone from the avenue to the riverside, the depth of south end is 37 zhang and the depth of north end is 17 zhang. Within the scope of the avenue, it starts from the Russian concession (southwest) and ends at the government land of city wall (northeast), with a length of 117 zhang. For the zone from the avenue to the government land within the city wall, the depth of south end is 106 zhang and the depth of north end is 43.5 zhang. The aforesaid concessions have been demarcated and the boundary stones have been set up. The total area of the French concession is 187 mu." The annual land and poll tax payable was 37 taels 8 maces 1 candareen 1 cash (silver) only. After the expansion made by Britain, "a new road directly connected to a station " (refer to Dazhimen Station), and France also desired to expand its domain and fight for the convenience of railway traffic; consequently, France concluded a treaty to expand its boundary in 1902, so that its concession surpass Zhongshan Avenue and a new boundary was defined within the scope from its northwest to the section which is 60 zhang from Beijing-Hankow Railway, with a total area of the French concession of up to 373 mu.

Starting from Weichuli of Zhongshan Avenue, Changqingli, Dexingli, Haishou Street, Rushouli and Chezhan Road and part of Huangxing Road were included in the French concession. In the sixth and seventh years of the Republic of China, the French seized the chance of incessant wars among warlords of China to illegally invade and occupy the west section of Huangxing Road and the whole section of Youyi Street on the north of the crossing (millstone) of Huangxing Road, which was extended to Dazhimen Railway Station. The French consulate was set up in Tongongli of Dongting Street. Another invader, Japan, took over the French concession during the World War II. After World War II, China recovered the French concession from Japanese troops.

German concession

Germany set up its concession in Hankou in the name of forcing Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to us one year prior to concluding the trade pacts with Russia and France. As required by Germany, the German concession was set up to the north of the British concession but not be contiguous to the British concession. The specific scope was from today’s Yiyuan Road (the German consulate was situated in the premises of today’s People's Government of Wuhan Municipality) to the line between Liuhe Road and Chenhuaimin Road, to the shore of the Yangtze River to the southeast and to Zhongshan Avenue to the northwest, covering an area of 600 mu. The annual land and poll tax payable was 121 taels 3 maces 2 candareen (silver). At that time, the area along the northwest part of the German concession, e.g. Huangpi and Xiaogan, where pedlars and craftsmen were gathered, gradually prospered, so this area was frequently harassed by German colonialists. The Qing government had to arrange police force to protect local civilians on the request of these civilians; meanwhile, Mr. Chen Jingtang funded the construction of houses along the northwest side of the German concession to form a street which was called "Huajing Street" ("Hua" means that it is a place administrated by Chinese people and "Jing" represents the middle name of the employer).

Thereafter, Mr. Han Yongqing funded the construction of another street called Huaqing Street, which is located between Gongan Road and Sanyang Road. After the Xinhai Revolution, a fire occurred during the war between the revolutionaries and the northern warlords, and the German Consul wanted to fish in troubled water and demanded for building walls beyond its concession to expand its concession, which was strongly objected by local civilians, so Germany could not gain its purpose.

After the outbreak of the World War I, China broke off relations with Germany in 1917 and rejected the escrow by the Netherlandish minister and recovered the German concession immediately; and the first Special Zone was established, while the special zone administrator was set up.

Japanese concession

In the twenty-fourth of Guangxu Era of Qing Dynasty (A.D. 1898), Japan forcedly established its concession in Hankou. The originally determined scope was from the German concession (between today’s Liuhe Road and Chenhuaimin Road) to Xiechang Alley (today’s Haomengling Road) and from the shore of the Yangtze River (east) to Pinghe Street (today’s Zhongshan Avenue) (west), with an area of around 247.5 mu. The amount of land and poll tax (silver) per mu had been specified in the treaties, but the total area of the concession was not measured and the total amount of silver was not stipulated, so it was pie in the sky. Eight years later, Japan expanded its concession northwards for 150 zhang, i.e. extended between Liujiaqi Road and Mayang Street (adjacent to Huangpu Road), and an area of 375.25mu was added, with the total area of 622.75 mu. The Japanese consulate was set up in Binjiang Hotel between Zhangzizhong Road and Shanhaiguan Road.

After the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan, the Chinese Government declared to recover the Japanese concession which was directly administrated by the municipal government of Hankou.

Belgian concession

In addition to the aforesaid five concessions, there was a problem that the Belgian purchased land around the Belgian Concession without authorization. In 1897, the Loan Contract of Lugouqiao-Hankow Railway was executed by and between the Qing government and Belgium. The Belgian seized the opportunity of land purchase for building roads to purchase residential land in Fenjinlu (around today’s Fenjin Street) without authorization, i.e. from the north side of the Japanese concession to the riverside of Liujiamiao (in the vicinity of today’s Jiang'an Station), with an area of about 600 mu, and constructed an embankment along the Yangtze River. In the next year, Belgium proposed to the Qing government the requirement of establishing the Belgian concession on the pretext of constructing houses for road workers.

After negotiations lasting for ten years, Zhang Zhidong, the governor-general of Hu-Guang, raised funds of over 818,000 taels (silver) from Hubei Official Monetary Bureau (HOMB) to redeem the whole land.

Tourist attractions

Jianghanguan Building, Dazhimen Railway Station, United States Navy YMCA, Terminus Hotel, Russian Eastern Orthodox Church, Minzhong Fairyland and Hualou Street.

Jianghanguan Building

Jianghanguan Building is located in the intersection between Jianghan Road and Yanjiang Avenue of Hankou Town, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and faces the Yangtze River to the southeast, which is one of the landmark buildings of Wuhan and is the core building in Hankou Concession. Hankow Customs —— it was established in November, 1861. On November 4, 1922, the foundation stone laying ceremony of this building was held at the sixtieth anniversary of Hankow Customs and it was formally completed on January 21, 1924. This building, with a floor area of 1,499m2, a building area of 4,009m2 and a total height of 46.3m, was the highest one in Wuhan at that time, with the top elevation of its belfry of 83.8m. From 1924, the overture of Westminster was played in Jianghanguan Building, but during the period of the Cultural Revolution, it was changed to Dongfanghong, and then in 1987, it was changed to the Westminster again to give the correct time and now is stilled used. In terms of the appearance and construction quality of Jianghanguan Building, it could be said to reach the international advanced level then. As a witness to the history of a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society of China, it is also a carrier that China changed the closed-door policy to the opening-up policy. It is the witness to the opening-up of Hankou and is the monument of the history of Wuhan, having historical value and value of art of architecture of great significance.

Year of completion: 1924

Dazhimen Railway Station


As the south terminal station of Beijing-Hankow Railway, Dazhimen Railway Station was second to none in Asia at the time of completion, which was the most advanced and spectacular railway station then, was called the "living heritage" recording the railway development history of China and operated until 1991. The most important characteristic was that 20m-high towers were constructed on the four corners of this station. It was converted into a bar named "Power Station", and now it belongs to one of the Major Sites Protected for their Historical and Cultural Value at the National Level.

Address: intersection between Jinghan Avenue and Chezhan Road, Hankou

Year of completion: 1903

United States Navy YMCA

United States Navy YMCA in Hankou concession


It is a classical architecture of modern style. It is designed with three-section composition, and five bays are designed in the facade, while the round protrusions are constructed in the bays on both sides, with three complete sets of wooden windows. The entrance is designed in the middle bay, where steps are constructed so as to directly connect the second floor. For the three bays in the middle, the double-column verandas are designed in the first, second and third floors. The both sides of the top floor are designed with the red tile slopes, on the outside of which the semicircular balcony is built, three bays in the middle are designed with single-column verandas. Now, it is the Patriotic Christian Association of Wuhan.

Address: No. 10, Lihuangpi Road

Year of completion: 1915

Terminus Hotel

Terminus Hotel in Hankou Concession


The hotel name was transliterated from an English word, Terminus; the hotel was very close to Hankou Dazhimen Railway Station which was the destination of then Beijing-Hankow Railway, so it was called Terminus Hotel. Terminus Hotel was the first hotel opened by foreigners in Wuhan. The hotel was designed with cream-colored walls and white cornices, rails and upright columns, and two pairs of Ionic double-column arched porches at the main entrance. The carved patterns on stairs still keep the appearance as they were a hundred years ago. The hotel's history of a hundred year is closely related to the political changes of China: the Lytton Commission had stayed at Terminus Hotel when they visited China for investigating the "Mukden Incident" in 1932; Ms. Agnes Smedley, a famous American writer, held a news conference in Terminus Hotel to introduce to Chinese and foreigners the situation of the guerrilla war of resistance against Japan performed by the Eighth Route Army. Now, it is Jianghan Hotel.

Address: No. 245, Shengli Street, Jiang'an District

Year of completion: 1919

Russian Eastern Orthodox Church

Russian Eastern Orthodox Church in Hankou concession


In 1891, the Tsar Nicholas II who was the last Tsar of Russia visited Hankou and participated in the 25th anniversary celebration of Shuntai Brick Tea Factory started by a Russian tea trader, and during this travel, the Tsar was satisfied, so he decided to contribute an eastern orthodox church to the local Russians, which is now the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church of Hankou is the unique Eastern Orthodox Church and also the sole Russian building of Byzantine style, which narrowly excaped from two bombing events in Hankou which occurred in 1938 and 1944 respectively, so the church is basically preserved in its original state up to now. Unfortunately, its "garlic-head" roof had been damaged.

Address: No. 83, Poyang Street

Year of completion: 1893

Minzhong Fairyland

Minzhong Fairyland in Hankou concession


Minzhong Fairyland on Zhongshan Avenue would be by no means inferior even if it were built on the Shanghai Bund. Before the liberation of China, Hankou Minzhong Fairyland was equally famous with Shanghai Great World and Tianjin Quanye Bazaar. Before the liberation, the local Han opera as well as Peking opera, Shaoxing opera, Yu opera and Huangmei opera were performed here; in addition to these highbrow operas from all over the country, there were popular acrobatics and magic shows, so Minzhong Fairyland was deserved. Until now, it is still a popular market in Wuhan, where the first nail salon and the first tattoo shop were opened, and the envelope of old buildings as well as magnificent internal arcades and grand stage are reserved, so the myth of Minzhong Fairyland is able to continue.

Address: Zhongshan Avenue, Hankou

Year of completion: 1919

Hualou Street

Hualou Street


After Hankou was opened as a treaty port, the business flourished in the zones next to the concession, where there were a great number of teahouses, restaurants, groceries and jewelry stores. A majority of houses on this street were made of wood and bricks, and eaves, beams and columns were painted with colorful patterns and windows and doors were chased into patterns of antique beauty, so it was called Hualou (Flower Building); therefore, this street was named Hualou Street. Like Yanzhi Road in Wuchang, Hualou Street was often rumored as the street of whorehouses, but actually, Hualou Street had nothing to do with whorehouses.