This week I had the pleasure of exploring various digital mapping sources through GeoSpatial Historian, that being said, ‘Beijing of Dreams’ is the website which caught my attention. The website displayed the lost ‘Beijing of Dreams’ through the use of photos remaining from the time when Beijing was considered the greatest walled capital city anywhere in the world. Additionally, the website offers an interactive map which is available through various different electronic devices which allows tourists to pull up images of vanished glories of Old Beijing as they visit each location in real time. Residents of Beijing are able to see the magnificent structures which once stood where they live.
Above is an image of the interactive map, the objects highlighted in red represent structures such as gates, walls and corners which once stood there.
I found this website to be extremely easy to navigate and quite visually appealing. Which I guess the website should be, since the only information it provides is that of images of that particular era. It provides the user with straight forward information regarding the structures which once stood in Beijing while also allowing them to compare the landscapes of the past to that of the current time period. Additionally, the subtitles along the top of the page allow for easy exploration of the site while remaining only a click away from the home page. I also found it beneficial that they incorporated an English and Chinese version of the website, as it doesn’t restrict its users to only those who speak Chinese.
The image above is a hand painted map of Old Beijing which was also incorporated in the website and was done by Wu Run-De around 1901.
However, I found the interactive map to be rather disappointing as it literally only offered the user with a link to the photo gallery as they hover over the structure with their mouse. There was no additional information provided to describe the structures and their significance, except for the structure’s name. The map also didn’t incorporate any map overlays, which would’ve been beneficial and quite interesting in displaying the landscape of Beijing as time progresses and it’s structures crumble. Since the creators of the website didn’t include a map of Beijing from recent years it is impossible for those who have never visited Beijing to comprehend the differences between Old Beijing and the city today. Due the lack of information provided by the website the audience is limited to that of tourists and residents of Beijing.