Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Peking (" Northern Capital"), the capital of the Chinese Empire, is situated at the head of a sandy, alluvial plain, 700 miles in length, in lat. 39° 54' 36" N., and long. 116° 27' E. It comprises an inner or "Tatar" city, which is square in form, and an oblong outer or "Chinese" city, which adjoins the former on its S. side, extending somewhat farther towards the E. and W., but considerably narrower from N. to S. Both cities are surrounded by walls, those of the inner city being about 50 ft. high, and from 40 ft. to 60 ft. thick. Their total length, excluding the cross wall, is 21 miles, and they embrace an area of nearly 26 square miles. There are sixteen forts, each of which is surmounted by a lofty tower built in galleries with numerous loopholes. The Tatar city is divided into three quarters, the outermost portion, which covers the larger part of the area, enclosing the quadrangular "Imperial City," within which, again, is the "Purple Forbidden City," also oblong in form, with a circuit of somewhat over two miles. To this inmost city foreigners are not admitted. Besides the palaces of the emperor, his kinsfolk, and various high officials, it contains several spacious and magnificent public halls, such as the Hall of Grand Harmony, in which the emperor holds his levees. The "Imperial City" is surrounded by a wall of 20 feet, the western portion consisting of the "Western Park." To the N. of the "Purple Forbidden City," on the other side of a moat, is the wooded artificial mound called "Prospect Hill," 150 feet in height. In the outside quarter of the inner city, to the N. of the Imperial City, are the Drum and Bell Towers. The outer or Chinese City contains but few buildings, the greater part of the surface consisting of wooded or cultivated ground, with numerous artificial lakes and tanks. Here is the famous Altar to Heaven, the most celebrated of the many religious spots in Pekin. Unlike most Chinese towns, Peking has spacious streets, the width of the more important thoroughfares exceeding 100 feet in the outer city, while in the inner city it is even more. These streets are lined with brick buildings of one storey, the shops being decorated with gilding and paint, so as to present a bright and attractive appearance. Elsewhere in Peking, however, the houses are wretched hovels. There is now a Roman Catholic cathedral, and an imperial university with European professors was established in 1868. The climate is very severe, varying from 10° in winterto 105° in summer. There are but few manufactures, and little trade of any kind. Peking is a city of great antiquity, its history dating back to the 12th century B.C., when it was the capital of the province of Yen.