Past: Fish Pond & Vegetable Patch
Present: A Popular Place for Recreation
Witness: He Lin
On November 15,
2008, it was a sunny morning. He Lin, 63, was taking a walk on Minzu Square with his wife. Seeing the blooming flowers and happy passers-by on the square, He Lin could not help recalling to mind what the place had been like decades of years before. To make a living, he had been working in Nanning since 1960 when he was only 15 years old. And he witnessed the changes in Nanning in the past 50 years.
He Lin recalled that the place where Minzu Square locates used to be fish ponds and vegetable patches. It was still suburbs in the 1960s with few settlers. However, in 1978, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, “Qiyi Square” was built there on which the celebration ceremony was held.
He Lin was quite proud in telling the past. He said, there were 200,000 people present for the parade, making the square very crowded. On top of the square, there were big red balloons with slogans attached. At that time, the rostrum of the square was where the portrait of the 3 generations of presidents is standing now. To He’s memery, Qiyi Square was the political centre then, most important meetings in Nanning were held there.
After that, minor changes were made of the place. In 1988, as one of the key projects to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the place was renovated into Minzu Square, which was equipped with facilities for the functions of today’s square, including colorful lights, flower decoration and musical fountain. Minzu Square then became the largest place for recreation and a modern urban square with both cultural and political functions. What impressed He most is that pigeons coexist with men peacefully on the square, adding a beautiful and harmonious scene to Nanning.
Past: Stinky Pond with Piles of Trash
Present: A Happy Place with Dance and Songs
Witness: Liang Mingsheng
Born in the 1940s, Liang Mingsheng is a native of Nanning. Since he retired several years ago, Chaoyang Square has been a place for recreation that he often patronizes. When he recalls the past look of Chaoyang Square, he says that the square used to be a stinky pond! What was the square like at that time?
Liang recalled that the place where Chaoyang Square is was called Xihao Pond before liberation. At that time, trash of the whole city was dumped there. In 1964, Xihao Pond was filled into an open space. After grass and trees were planted, it became the “People’s Square”. At the very beginning, there was barely anything on the square, but people were quite satisfied with the place for they had one more place to go for leisure.
According to Liang, Chaoyang Square was renamed several times. In July 1968, during the Cultural Revolution, Renmin Square was renamed “Qisan Square”. In April 1971, it was changed to “Chaoyang Square”. At that time, the main function of Chaoyang Square was for political gatherings.
In 1980, flowers were planted and fence was set up around the square. It was changed to “Chaoyang Garden” and started to charge some fee for entrance to it. In the late 1990s, the garden was changed to “Chaoyang Square” again. The fence was torn down and it became free again to citizens.
Now Chaoyang Square has become a popular place for recreation. When first sun rays in the morning shine on the square, there are already many people gathered here for morning exercises. Singing and dancing with other retired people everyday on the square makes Liang’s retired life interesting and colorful.
Present：Beautiful Bund in Nanning
Witness: Aunt Li
Li Aihao is 75 years old. She has been living in Ren’ai Road to the entrance of Stone Lane. In 2002, she moved to Daxue Road because of the construction of Minsheng Square.
Li learned from her older generation that before liberation, Minsheng Square was a busy dock. But to her, the dock embankment was not safe at all, and people were always worried when the flood season came. Li lived on the ground floor at that time, and the family suffered from two floods each year. The family had to move when flooded. The situation didn’t improved until 1976 when the flood curbing dyke was built. After that, although Li’s house was not flooded as before, they had the problem of drainage in heavy rains because of the low hypsography of Ren'ai Road. In February 2003, the construction of Minsheng Square began, and on September 30 of the same year, it was accomplished and opened to public. As soon as she heard of the news, Li took her grandson to see the new square. “Great changes have taken place on the former Minsheng Dyke!” Walking on the square with her grandson, Aunt Li was very excited, in a vague hope to find some memory of the past.
Past: A Place Sparsely Populated
Present: Prosperous Commercial Square
Witness: Huang Xiaowei
Huang Xiaowei belongs to the new “immigrant” to Nanning. She found a job and stayed in Nanning after her graduation from university in 2001. Since her company is on Qingshan Road, for convenience, she rented a house in No. 5 Group of Langxi Village.
Langxi Village and its neighborhood were no more than suburb by then. After work, she often stayed in the rented room and watched TV. In 2003, her company moved to Jinpu Road, and Huang also moved to No. 8 Group of Langdong Village. As far as she remembered, except for villagers’ houses, a great deal of land near Jinpu Road was under construction and it was very dusty, so she didn’t go out at night. Gradually, however, Huang noticed skyscrapers near Jinhu Road were built in an amazing speed, making difference every day.
On August 23rd, 2004, when Huang learned that the construction of Wuxiang Square was to begin, she didn’t take it to heart at that time; but soon enough, the square was accomplished and opened to public. A square built with “Shenzhen Speed” turned out to be the first modern comprehensive commercial square in the city. With eco-leisure as its main body, it integrates square and underground mall.
Two years ago, Huang bought a small apartment near Wuxiang Square, and she has just moved in this year. Several years ago, she barely went out at night, while now, with the square and all the malls within easy reach, she’d love to go out every day.
50 years ago, there was only one square in Nanning --- the Square in front of Nanning Railway Station, which was the earliest square in Nanning, built in 1957. The square covered an area of 15,000 m2, and on both sides were meadows, in the middle was a green island. During the Cultural Revolution, however, the meadows, trees and hedges were badly damaged. In 1983, new grass and trees were planted with a central green island. In the middle of the square, a colorful fountain was built. Almonds around the green island were connected with almonds along Chaoyang Road. In 2000, in order to broaden the road in front of the station, the square was torn down and rebuilt.
Today, city square is not only an incarnation of city civilization, but also a beautiful feature of the city. From 1998 to 2004, the number of squares in Nanning increased from 3 to 8 in 6 years. City squares have become an indispensable part of citizens’ life. And every one would like a square near where he/she lives.