Tasting the Oriental Chicago on the East Lake Greenway
Wuhan is the largest international metropolitan city along the Yangtze River in central China. It is also known as the “City of Lakes” and the “Oriental Chicago.” Like a piece of fine jade, the East Lake is one of the most beautiful among all lakes. Covering an area of 33 square kilometers, it is one of China’s largest incity lakes.
Throughout Wuhan’s history, the city and the lake have nourished and complemented each other. If we talk about the “Oriental Chicago,” the first topic we need to pick up is the East Lake. Looking west from the east side of the lake, skyscrapers rise above the lush maple trees and cast a reflection on the crystal clear water. The beauty of the scenery resembles Chicago against the backdrop of Lake Michigan.
The East Lake has become a place where busy urban dwellers come to seek peace and leisure. Now with the greenway open for use, they have one more way to enjoy the nourishment of nature.
A Green Heart of Legendary Origins
Legends have been passed down through the generations about the East Lake. One is about the dragon prince who lived in the East China Sea. He had a beautiful piece of jade— huge and fine. The prince loved it so much that he never separated with it. He adorned it with colorful ribbons and braids. One day, the jade accidentally fell to the human’s world and turned into a lake—its ribbons becoming rivers and braids bays. The prince descended immediately to take it back but it was too late. In desperation, the prince turned into a mountain to accompany the jade. The lake the jade turned into is the East Lake, and the mountain the prince turned into is Moshan Mountain. That’s why Moshan Mountain is also known as Dragon Head Mountain.
In recent years, the Wuhan Municipal Government decided to make the East Lake the ecological green heart of the city, and build a greenway along the perimeter of the East Lake within three years in three different phases, which will become the “veins” to the “green heart.” The project is undoubtedly world-class. The total length of the greenway is about 124 km, of which 82 km is the main path and 42 km side tracks. The first two phases of project have been finished, with 101 km completed and open to the public. Secondly,
近年，武汉市提出将东湖建成“生态绿心”，并沿东湖各湖打造绿道工程，分三期建设，三年内建成，给这颗绿心装上了“律动的脉搏”。这条绿道无疑是世界级的，首先是她规划总长约124 公里，其中绿道主线 82 公里，绿道次线 42公里。一二期 101 公里已建成并对外开放。其次，她串联多处景点，让游客健身观景两不误。据了解，东湖绿道已成为中国国内最长城市核心区环湖绿道。
作为国内首条城区内 5A级景区绿道，去年，1285万人次造访东湖风景区，移步东湖绿道的就超过 800 万人次，日高峰达 26 万人次以上，高峰小时客流超过3 万人次。
the greenway connects all the scenic spots so that visitors can exercise while surrounded by beautiful views. The East Lake Greenway is the longest path surrounding a city-center lake in China.
A Place for Tranquility and Recreation
In the forest of skyscrapers and chaos of social interactions, more and more people wish to escape from the pressure of city life and find a place of peace and relaxation, where they can enjoy views while exercising, and the East Lake is their first choice.
Last year, nearly 13 million people visited the East Lake Scenic Area. As the first walking path within a national 5A-level scenic spot in China, the greenway attracted people from many walks of life. On peak days, more than 260,000 people visited the Greenway, and at peak hours, more than 30,000 people were sharing the path simultaneously.
In 2016, the Wuhan East Lake Greenway Project was listed as a demonstration project of urban public space improvement in China by United Nations Human Settlements Programme ( UNHabitat), and was promoted internationally at the Habitat III Conference. Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, expressed after visiting the East Lake himself, “The East Lake Greenway truly is an example of people’s equal rights to urban public spaces in Wuhan. It provides local citizens with public leisure space which is accessible, ecological, and inclusive.”
If you say that the West Lake in Hangzhou is as beautiful as a pure maiden, the East Lake in Wuhan is more comparable to a cultured lady. For people seeking a relaxing moment, they can rest and enjoy the mountain and the lake; for those looking for exercise, they can play and have fun. By the end of 2017, 713 events had been held in the greenway area, including a marathon, the C4 summit, and a cycling race, which altogether attracted nearly 320,000 participants. In 2018, the first National
2017 年底，绿道内共计开展活动 713 场次，包括马拉松赛、C4 峰会、环东湖绿道自行车赛等大型赛事活动，各项现场活动参与人数达 32 万人次。2018年全国首届大学生马拉松赛相中东湖绿道，2019年世界军运会帆船赛和马拉松赛同样选址于此。
东湖风景区内有景观景点 100 多处，12个大小湖泊，120多个岛洲，112公里湖岸线曲折，环湖 34座山峰绵延起伏，10000 余亩山林林木葱郁。
她是植物王国，植物类型多样，景观独特，水生植物科数占中国水生植物科数的40.37%，世界的 29.87%。其湿地原生态保护区内种有古树名木对节白蜡、红豆树、金桂、垂直重阳木、古朴等，树龄多达200 年以上。
梅园、荷园、樱园等 13个植物专类园各具特色。东湖梅园有梅花品种320 余种，其中152个品种登录国际植物名录，占全世界梅花登录品种的 60%，居全球第一，有腊梅品种100余种，占世界90%。荷园有荷花700多种，占世界 80% 以上，是世界规模最大、品种最全的荷花品种资源苗圃。樱园与日本弘前樱花园和美国华盛顿樱花园并称为世界三大赏樱胜地，种植樱花50 多种 10000 余株。
东湖更是鸟儿的天堂，5大类型 234 种珍稀鸟类栖息于此。其中濒危鸟类 2 种、二级保护鸟类9种、省级保护鸟类10 种，是观鸟旅游的绝佳场所。
自古以来，东湖就是游览胜地。屈原在东湖“泽畔行吟”，楚庄王在东湖击鼓督战；三国时期，刘备在东湖磨山设坛祭天；南宋诗人袁说友用“只说西湖在帝都，武昌新又说东湖”赞美东湖；李白在东湖湖畔放鹰台题诗；毛泽东建国后先后视察东湖44 次，在东湖接待 64 个国家的 94批外国政要。
College Students’ Marathon will be held at the East Lake Greenway. The 2019 Military World Games has also chosen to host its sailing races and marathon here.
A Botanical Garden with a Touch of Culture
The East Lake is not only the inseparable jade of the dragon prince, but also an auspicious place that literary minds have gathered at throughout the history. Its beauty is not only natural, but also has a touch of culture.
There are more than 100 scenic spots within the East Lake Scenic Area, which is composed of 12 lakes of difference sizes, more than 120 islands and peninsulas, 112 km of winding lake coast, 34 mountain peaks surrounding the lake, and more
2 than 7 km of lush forests.
It is a botanical garden with diverse plants and unique landscapes. The diversity of aquatic plants accounts for 40.37% of the total varieties of aquatic plants in China, and 29.87% of the world. The preserved wetland ecological zone is carpeted with ancient and precious trees such as fraxinus huphensis, ormosia hosiei, sweet olive, vertical sunwood, hackberry, and others. Some of the trees are more than 200 years old.
There are 13 gardens for plums, lotus, sakura, and others. In the Plum Garden, there are more 320 varieties of plum blossoms, 152 of which are registered in the International Botanical List, accounting for 60% of the world’s registered plum species and ranking first in the world. There are more than 100 varieties of Japanese allspice, accounting for 90% of the kind’s varieties in the world. The Lotus Garden accommodates more than 700 kinds of lotus, accounting for more than 80% of the world’s varieties. It is the world’s largest lotus nursery garden with the most complete varieties. The Sakura Garden, together with Japan’s Hirosaki Sakura Park and the United States’ Washington Sakura Garden, are considered the world’s top three sakura viewing spots. There are more than 10,000 sakura trees in the garden, with more than 50 varieties.
The East Lake is a paradise for birds. 234 rare
东湖绿道在设计之初，便有美 国 SWA、 美 国 EDSA、 荷 兰NITA、中国泛亚、中国易兰等顶尖景观机构参与。其建设一直秉承尊重自然、以人为本的原则。
按照世界级标准，为具备举办国际环湖自行车赛的能力，东湖绿道的自行车道与步行道将分行，其中，步行道宽度不低于 1.5 米，自行车道宽度不低于6 米。
然而，为保护生态，一期磨山道一段成为特例。为避免移植或砍伐路边的 27 棵大树，磨山道路段由原定的6米宽度改为按4米宽度施工。二期湖町道建设中，为保护十株水杉，原先路堤填筑的方案也被改为架桥，使断面变窄，为树木留出生存空间。
在生态环保的理念指导下，绿道建设非但没有破坏生态环境，还将东湖水质提升到 40年来最好水 平。东湖建设者对湖泊岸线环境进行了系统改善，修建帆船基地，湖底重新清淤 10万立方米，增添污水管网，还修整边坡减少水土流失，利用湖边种草、水里养鱼等生态手段，最终促进东湖的生态优化。
为便利市民出行，东湖绿道的停车位设置大于1万个，大巴泊位多达 350 个，有 22条公交线路可抵达。
species of birds under 5 classes inhabit here. Among them, there are 2 endangered species, 9 species on the national secondary protection list, and 10 species on the provincial protection list. It is a perfect place for birdwatching.
The East Lake has been a tourist attraction since ancient times. Poet Qu Yuan ( 340– 278BC) strolled along the East Lake and sang his poems; King Zhuang of Chu (died 591BC) played drums at the East Lake to encourage his solders; during the Three Kingdoms Era (220–280), Liu Bei (warlord, 161– 223) made sacrifices to the God of Moshan Mountain; during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127– 1279), poet Yuan Shuoyou (1140-1204) in praise of the East Lake, wrote, “We hear the West Lake in our capital, but we praise the East Lake in Wuchang”; Li Bai inscribed a poem at the Eagle Release Platform lakeside of the East Lake; Chairman Mao Zedong visited the East Lake 44 times after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and received 94 delegations sent by 64 countries.
Heart and Soul in Every Detail
To create a world-class greenway path, the East Lake Greenway Project was carefully conducted from design to construction. Every step was injected with the designers’ thoughtful ideas.
From the very beginning, the project has attracted multiple top tier landscape design agencies from around the world, such as SWA and EDSA from the US, NITA from the Netherlands, and EADG and Ecoland from China. And its construction has adhered to the principle of respecting nature and people.
Following world-class standards for international bicycle races, the bicycle and pedestrian lanes of the East Lake Greenway are separated. The width of the pedestrian path is no less than 1.5 meters and the bicycle lane is no less than 6 meters.
In order to protect the surrounding nature, the Moshan Greenway part ( in Phase 1 of the Greenway Project) was treated differently. To avoid transplanting or cutting down 27 trees along the roadside, the Moshan Greenway bicycle section was paved 4 meters wide instead. During the construction of the Huting Greenway part (in Phase 2 of the Greenway Project), in order to protect ten metasequois, the original plan to fill in a ravine was replaced with building a bridge, which narrowed the cutting area and provided space for the trees.
Many of the construction materials for the greenway were recycled, restoring the ancient
beauty while still protecting the environment. For example, dozens of mile markers on the country road section were collected from rural areas in the north to imitate country life. The shore of Eju South Island was laid with old railway ties collected from abandoned railroad tracks to make use of the materials’ durability, stability, and corrosion resistance. The fire bricks used at the footpaths of the western bank of country road were mainly collected from brickyards in Hunan Province. Compared with new bricks, used refractory bricks have different colors, thus looking much more colorful.
13 animal passages have also been designed in the greenway to protect the living space of many kinds of wild animals and limit human impacts to the ecological environment. For example, for small animals such as rabbits and squirrels, tube culverts and box culverts were designed and constructed below the waterways and the greenway for the animals to pass safely.
Guided by the principle of ecological protection, the construction of the project didn’t cause any harm to the ecological environment but instead improved the lake’s water quality to its best in 40 years. The construction teams systematically improved the ecological environment around the lake, built a sailboat port, cleaned up 100,000 cubic meters of dredges at the lake bottom, installed a sewage network, and rebuilt the lakeshore to prevent soil loss. Other ecological measures such as planting trees and grasses along the lake and stocking fish have combined to ultimately improve the ecological conditions of the East Lake.
For the convenience of visitors, there are more than 10,000 parking spaces for private cars nearby the East Lake Greenway, in addition to 350 bus parking spots. 22 bus lines run through the greenway.
The greenway’s management also provides services through modern technology. Citizens can download an application or follow the public account on WeChat to check traffic, find parking, rent a bicycle, and pay for purchases on their phones. They can also make emergency calls by simply hitting one button.
One article is not enough to describe the beauty of the East Lake and one trip is not sufficient to see its entire splendor. You need to come to visit, breathe in the sweet air, and taste the culture behind the trees and the flowers.
(Photos courtesy of the East Lake Greenway Company)
Athletes taking a group photo in Changtianlou (Infinite Sky Tower) by the East Lake after watching Peking Opera赛艇运动员欣赏京剧《大闹天宫》后在东湖长天楼合影留念HavocinHeaven
Athletes on a sightseeing boat on the East Lake赛艇运动员乘船游览东湖
Athletes participating in “Graceful Donghu” World-famous Universities Rowing Challenge