Honglou (the Red Building)

Honglou, the former site of Beijing University, is situated at the eastern end of Shatan Street. The four-story red brick building dates from 1918 and is particularly famous today because Li Dazhao, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, and Mao Zedong both worked there. At the southeastern corner of the first floor of the building, two west-facing rooms have been designated the Mao Zedong and Li Dazhao Memorial Rooms.

Born in 1889, Li Dazhao went to study in Japan and there in 1913 took part in the movements to oppose Yuan Shikai. On his return to Beijing, e became chief editor of the magazine Morning Bell Journal (Chenzhong Bao) and in 1917 jointed the staff of Beijing University as a professor of economics and director of the library. He organized a diverse group of idealistic youth and on June 30, 1918, founded the young China Society. The members included Mao Zedong, Gao Junyu, Yun Daiying, Cai Hesen and Xu Deheng. Their aim was " with a scientific attitude, to work for society and create a new young China." Nowadays, the room that was Li Dazhao's study contains a display of items of historical interest such as photographs, letters, manuscripts and books. Also on display are some of the magazines that carried his essays -- New Youth, New Tide, Weekly Review, as well as copies of his posthumously published works Essentials of Historiography and Populism. His old desk and chair, its back worn out from long use, are still in their original positions. A more sinister exhibit is a photograph of the gallows used by the warlord Zhang Zuolin to execute Li Dazhao in 1927.

From August 1918 to 1919, Mao Zedong worked in Beijing University as a library assistant. Today the room where he worked contains a display with his three-drawer desk and wooded chair. Here is also a copy of the Beijing University Monthly, which published a notice about Mao's receiving an auditor's permit for a series of lectures given by the Beijing University Journalism Society, and the letter that he wrote to the Beijing University Student's Self-Governing Society in 1949.

Honglou was the birthplace of the May 4th Movement. On the morning of May 4, 1919, it was from this building that Beijing University students set out on their way to Tian'anmen and on May 7 it was in the square north of the building that the students gathered once again to welcome back classmates released after their arrest during the demonstrations.

Principal Sites Around the Forbidden City
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Tales of Streets and Hutongs
Public Parks and Former Gardens
Places Commemorating Famous People
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A General Survey of Beijing
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