The Five Great Avenues is a residential area towards the Western end of the British Concession. It is a rectangular area containing more than 22 suburban streets lined with concession-era residential villas.
In its heyday, this was the heart of the social scene in Tientsin’s British Concession, where the Racecourse was, and where its wealthy resided. Quite wonderfully, almost all of its historic architecture has survived and many have been restored.
And there is a wealth of such historic architecture! The Tianjin Department of Historical Building Protection notes that the Five Great Avenues Area features more than 230 buildings with different European architectural styles. In the 1920s and 30s many Chinese celebrities, politicians and other literary personalities resided here.
The most monumental of these buildings sit on Machang Avenue 馬場道, which quite literally means, Racecourse Avenue. Further in the area, one gets an eerie-nostalgic sense of being in the English suburbs, and along some stretches, even in one of the Council Housing estates in London.
The area is a pleasure to explore and stroll around in, but quite frankly, exceedingly hard to photograph, whatwith the throngs of locals taking in the scenery alongside one. Its nearest equivalent on the Grand Tour thus far is the Badaguan Area in Tsingtao, though it is nowhere near as idyllic.
Here’s glimpse of the streetscape…