Dongsi – literally, the “Eastern Four” or the “Eastern Quadrangle” – dates back to the Yuan Dynasty.
The intersection is named after four paifangs or Chinese sign gates that marked the location, but which were removed in 1958.
On the floor of the platform are two Xiangqi (Chinese chess) boards. This game is a common pastime in Chinese cities and is regularly played in the hutongs (alleyways) that can be found right across this neighbourhood.
This is one of the most photographed pieces of art on the entire Beijing subway network as people pose with their feet on different intersections of the board. (Unlike Western chess, Xiangqi’s pieces are placed on the intersections of the squares.)