The Hutongs are narrow lanes among courtyard houses. The history of the Hutongs can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368). After the establishment of the Yuan authority, the nobles were pleased to be awarded with certain pieces of land as feudal estates. They actively built houses and courtyards which were arranged in order around water wells. The passages between houses were left to allow for light and ventilation and a convenient right-of way. Though these countless passages crisscrossed the old capital like a chessboard, there were only 29 of them called Hutongs. Because city planning was very strict at that time, the roads which measured 36 metres wide were called main streets, the 18-metre wide roads were named side streets and those nine metres or less were designated as Hutongs. In the Ming (1368 – 1644) and the Qing (1644 – 1911) Dynasties, city planning was less strict. Stallholders squeezed in the residential districts, which made the Hutongs differ in width from over six metres to less than one metre. The basic appearance of Hutongs was generally formed during these periods with many having just one entrance. The Hutongs are best seen by Pedicab or cycle rickshaw and from here you will get an interesting glimpse into the lives of the traditional Beijing citizens.