The impressive SE corner tower of the Ming and Qing dynasty city wall is an imposing and proper backdrop for today's origin of the Tonghui canal.
The canal begins its 17 km eastward flow from the train bridge in the rear. The 2pm express train for Shanghai is just pulling out of Beijing's main station on top of the bridge.
Not only does Tonghui canal originate here. This is also the point where the dynastic southeastern moat (behind the bridge) meets up with the northeastern moat (now piped underground, photo right foreground).
On this first part of its journey, the canal flows gently between railway maintenance shops to its south and modern high-rises to its north.
Soon Tonghui passes under Beijing's elevated, busy Third Ring Road. The photo looks north northwest; the water flows to the right (east).
Most hurried motorists cross the famous river without realizing that they are witnessing a Chinese masterwork.
Note the transformation of the capital in the back of the photo; cranes are busy building the new residential- and business Soho district.
In the rear the twin towers of China World Trade Center are looming over the escavation of the foundation of the third tower, completed in 2009.
Qing Feng Sluice, the first sluice gate of Tonghui Canal, lies rather unnoticed just a little southeast of China World Trade Center.
The gate regulated the flow and level of the water so that barges could enter the main canal safely.
The gate itself is long gone. On its location today (picture left) is a tall, arched bridge, four carved dragons guarding the sluice and a steele memorial (below).
An inscription on the steele extends a welcome from the emperor (below right).
A couple of tidbits:
The top picture shows old low budget houses on the northern bank just before they were demolished in 2004 to make room for new residential highrises.
The lower picture shows where the dynastic city gate of Dongbianmen was located - roughly where the flag is on the left of the photo. At that time this section of Tonghui canal formed part of the city moat.
The insert below shows one of the former residents (left) in a cozy conversation.