Park City at the Foot of Snow-capped Mountains

Authors: Go Chengdu

2020-12-23

"Nowadays Chengdu demonstrates the best image of a world-class city with beautiful views of snow-capped mountains... Can you name another city with a population in the tens of millions and a mountain skyline surpassing 6,000 meters stretching for thousands of miles? No, there's only Chengdu... "--Shan Zhiqiang, Editor-in-chief of Chinese National Geography magazine
To name Chengdu as the "park city at the foot of snow-capped mountains" is well justified —so it was in ancient times, and so it has been for millennia since.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Beginning: God-given endowment
In fact there are a fair number of renowned "snow mountain cities" all over the world. Asia has Tokyo, Lijiang, Urumqi, and Kathmandu. In Europe there is Geneva, Milan, and Munich, in America, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Diego. Each city has its own unique and fascinating characteristics.
So what makes Chengdu stand out?
First, in terms of time, the area has been settled since ancient times when the Shu people traveled down the banks of the Minjiang River and established their cultural center on the Chengdu Plain. Since then, the light of civilization has never gone out. For more than 5,000 years people have enjoyed the view of snow-capped mountains from this same site, bestowing Chengdu with special qualifications among these cities for its human history.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Second, in terms of the sheer height of mountains, Chengdu offers views of the Min, Qionglai, Daxue, and other dramatic ranges. From Mount Qingcheng, one of the most famous sacred mountains in Taoism, at a height of 1,600 meters to Mount Gongga, "King of the Shu Mountains", towering to 7,556 meters' height.
Finally, as to the size, Chengdu has nearly 17 million permanent residents and 21 million residents under actual administration; its area covers over 14,000 square kilometers —nearly 1,000 square kilometers of which is urbanized. Few other "snow mountain cities" in the world can even hold a candle to Chengdu regarding its formidable scale.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Continuation: Poetic park city
More than a thousand years ago, Du Fu, one of China's greatest poets, left a dazzling array of poems during his sojourn in Chengdu. His romantic spirit survives into today, as the city strives to maximize the use of its abundant ecological resources to build into a beautiful residential park city organically integrating urban structures, gardens, and humanity. The snow-capped grandeur and beauty Du Fu once immortalized in his poetry is thus to be revived.
For Chengdu people, parks are a way of life and embodiment of the city's poetic spirit. Jincheng Park, for instance, is an excellent site for kayaking and bird photography by day and jogging by night. Jiangtan Park really comes to life as a smart sports park with energy parkour, e-sports football, light-sensing rock climbing and bike racing. Bailuwan Ecological Wetland Park, meanwhile, is home to hills surrounded by soaring egrets and flowers visited by flitting dragonflies, which is a perfect spot for both hiking and bicycling.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Photo by: Jia Nan
It's only in Chengdu, where about 20 million people can look into the distance to enjoy the breathtaking horizon of mountains stretching for thousands of miles.
There were 56 mountain sightings documented in Chengdu in 2018, six more than 2017; mountain sightings can occur in every month of the year except December.
Photographer Jia Nan lives in Longquanyi District, Chengdu. For the past several years he has gotten up at 6 AM every morning to climb Mount Longquan and from this vantage point record Chengdu's urban and mountain landscape with his camera.
In 2019, there were 65 snow-capped mountain sightings documented in the city, surpassing both 2018 and 2017's records. Sightings in July, August, and September were particularly prolific.
This summer, as Chengdu enjoyed good weather in a row and excellent air quality, sightings of the distant snowy peaks almost became a routine for Chengdu residents.
August 18, 2020 marked the one-year countdown to the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games. On that day, range upon range of snow-capped mountains were visible to Chengdu's west; in the evening, they cast a striking image against the canopy of rosy sunset clouds. Editor-in-Chief Shan Zhiqiang shared a lengthy Weibo post expressing his love for Chengdu, referring to the city as the "model image of a world-class city of snow mountains".
It's too soon to say how many mountain sightings will go down in the books for 2020. What is certain is that the striking scene of snow-capped mountains in the distance has become a part of Chengdu residents' everyday life, paving the way for a new aesthetic trend.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Enrichment: Diverse scenarios
Seeing as mountains don't change location, whether or not they are visible from Chengdu all depends on two factors — the weather and the air quality.
Over the past few years, Chengdu has made all-out efforts to bring the faraway mountain skyline into sharper relief.
With a planned area of 1,275 square kilometers, Mount Longquan Urban Forest Park will be the world's largest of its kind. Project construction commenced three years ago, and once this "green city heart" starts to beat, the park and surrounding urban spaces will organically integrate. On the other side of the mountain lies the Chengdu Eastern New Area, a harbinger of the future Chengdu defined by ecological resilience and representative of Chengdu's "park city" concept.
Upon completion, the Tianfu Greenway in the city will stretch 16,930 kilometers to become the longest "greenway" system in the world by 2035. Chengdu Tianfu Greenway will offer a wide range of functions from ecological protection, non-motorized traffic, leisure travel, urban-rural integration, sports, and agricultural sightseeing.
TOD, short for "transit-oriented development", will shape a city into a better form. Chengdu is carrying out comprehensive TOD projects to realize "a beautiful park, one residential community" at a time.
...
Taking a multi-pronged approach to pollution prevention and control, Chengdu enjoyed a record-setting of 287 days without heavy pollution in 2019. This is the best result since 2013, when China introduced new air quality evaluation standards.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
What does it mean for Chengdu to be a "park city at the foot of snow-capped mountains"?
It means stunning and mysterious scenery. Layers of modern buildings silhouetted against snow-capped mountains strike a harmonious balance between city and nature.
It means a priceless urban trademark. When people think of "Chengdu", what will come to their minds? The answer could be pandas, hotpot, or mountain scenery. But while pandas may go on loan to countries around the world and any city can open a hotpot restaurant, the mountains will always stay at Chengdu's side. Their views are inherently unique to Chengdu.
It means a huge potential driver of economic growth. As an international tourist destination, Chengdu is working hard to develop a "park plus" economy featuring new formats and modes of consumption. The mountains are a constant resource for improving sightseeing experience and a means for transforming "clear waters and green mountains" into prosperity and wealth.
It means an enviable lifestyle. Naturally, enjoying the firmament and the sight of snow-capped mountains will be a lasting source of Chengdu people's happiness.
Park City, Snow-capped Mountains,Chengdu
Afterword: Viewing the park city at the foot of mountains while strolling along the lush Tianfu Greenway has become a popular means of getting the full and authentic Chengdu experience.

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