[Photo Gallery:] the old Licun Chinese Prison

A literal stone’s throw from the south wall of the Rockcity Mall (伟东乐客城) in Qingdao’s Licun (青岛李村) sits the last remnants of the old Licun Chinese Prison (李村华人监狱). It’s surrounded by construction fences, but you can get in through the loosely chained construction site gate on the north side.

The walls inside and out are covered in barely legible Mao Era slogans, which, along with its history, make this a fascinating stop for urban explorers. But unless the authorities have plans to turn it into a museum, I doubt it will be standing for much longer. Along with the Binhe Lu Christian Church (滨河路基督教堂) and, until recently, Licunji (李村集,the canal bed market), this prison represents the last wisps of tangible history in a fast-developing district.

According to Baidu, German imperialists built the Licun Chinese Prison in 1897 (they had a separate prison on Changzhou Lu 常州路 for foreigners). Around 1939 it underwent major restoration. In 1941 during the Japanese occupation there was a famous prison break, commemorated with a photo. After Liberation most of the original structure was torn down and rebuilt.
iron&wood
In 1954, criminals were given three months of winter thought reform training in the “3 Destroys, 3 Erects”:

“Destroy reactionary thinking, erect socialism thinking;
Destroy exploitative notions, erect the glory of labour;
Destroy old bad habits, erect new morals.”
破反动思想,立社会主义思想;
破剥削观念,立劳动光荣;
破旧恶习,立新道德。

That slogan and many others are still visible on the prison walls — I’ve translated all the legible ones in the photo captions below (with much help from my Weixin pengyous). (The most recent writing I found was a posted notice from January 2007 listing sanitation duties.)

These photos were taken on December 12 and 14, 2016. Click a thumbnail to get started!


I found two other photo collections: one from August 2013, and one from April 2016.

Modern Chinese archeology: backyard furnaces from the Great Leap Forward

From Danwei:

A group of more than 150 steel furnaces stretching two kilometers across a hillside was recently discovered in Gansu Province.

The furnaces date from the Great Leap Forward, when the entire country was mobilized to turn scrap iron into steel using small-scale furnaces, with the aim of doubling the national output. The project was a total disaster and the furnaces were abandoned two years later.

And Frog in a Well:

Great Leap Forward era backyard iron furnaces have been unearthed [via] and there is discussion about whether to preserve them as historical evidence, even a cultural heritage.

Both articles provide interesting additional links.