An Ancient City Chugging into the Future
In the subconscious of Chinese people, Zhengzhou is synonymous with China’s ‘zhongyuan’ (lit. the ‘Central Plains’).This ancient city was abandoned as ruins, long before the First Emperor of China. Since 1950, archaeological finds within a walled city in Eastern Zhengzhou has provided evidence of Neolithic Shang dynasty settlements in the region. Zhengzhou attracts Western tourists primarily due to the internationally known ShaolinTemple.The destination is renowned for being one of China's most important Buddhist shrines, as well as the ancient center of Chinese Kungfu, located more than 50 miles southwest of downtown Zhengzhou. Shaolin Monastery and its famed Pagoda Forest were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Legend suggests that in the Western Zhou period (1111–771 BC) the site became the fief of a family named Guan; and the city was named Guanzhou when it first became the seat of a prefectural administration in AD 587. In 605 it was first called Zhengzhou - a name by which it has been known as ever since. It
nd was a capital during the five dynasties of Xia, Shang, Guan, Zheng, and Han, and a prefecture during the eight dynasties of Sui,Tang, Five Dynasties, Song, Jin,Yuan, Ming, and Qing. The provincial capital of Henan Province lying on the southern bank of the Yellow River in east-central China and one of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China, Zhengzhou has long been serving as a major transportation hub for Central China. In 1903 the Beijing-Hankou Railway arrived at Zhengzhou, and in 1909 the first stage of the Longhai Railway produced an east-west link to Kaifeng and Luoyang; which was later extended eastward to the coast at Lianyungang, Jiangsu, and westward to Xi'an (Chang'an), Shaanxi, as well as to western Shaanxi. Zhengzhou thus became a major rail junction and a regional center for cotton, grain, peanuts, and other agricultural produce. To a large extent, railway allowed Zhengzhou to become the city that it is today. Throughout most of its modern history, the city was the ‘heart’ of China’s railway network. For many decades, the railway-related industry employed almost half of the city’s population. However the ‘heart’, went through a sudden cardiac arrest in early 1923, when a workers' strike began in Zhengzhou and spread along the rail line before it was suppressed. A 14-story double tower in Erqi Square in the center of the city commemorates the strike. On June 10, 1938, Chiang Kai-shek's National Revolutionary Army opened up the dikes retaining the Yellow River at Huayuankou between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng, in an effort to stem the tide of invading Japanese; however, the ensuing 1938Yellow River flood also killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese.