The Yellow River

Reimagining the Silk Road

The Yellow River

Lanzhou, 2009

Lanzhou was one trading point along the Northern Silk Road. Lanzhou is formed in a valley cut through by the Yellow River, which begins in the Kunlun Mountains in Qinghai and has been equally a boon and a detriment to riverside communities. Whereas the loess soil deposited by the river was historically rich in nutrients and supported agriculture, overpopulation and desertification have exacerbated erosion. From this view atop White Pagoda Mountain (Bai Ta Shan 白塔山), you can see the Yellow River and the city on its southern banks. Pockets of Hui communities cling to narrow valleys on the north side of the Yellow River. Some of these communities have been dislocated following an urban development plan to build a “modern” park/shopping mall below the White Pagoda Temple, built in the thirteenth century to commemorate a Tibetan lama emissary to Genghis Khan.