Story of the Stone

Joseph Wang


This presentation is about a stone tablet that bears the 13th century city map of Suzhou, a city in Southeastern China founded in 525 BC. The year was 1229 AD when Lu Yen and his collaborators carefully sculpted the map onto a 6′-6″ x 4′-5″ stone that depicts the factual layout of Ping Jiang (the Sung name for Suzhou) in conventional Chinese manner combining architectural plans with simplified elevation images.


Incised on the map are mountains, lakes, the city area, rivers, government offices, streets, temples, pavilions, bridges, gardens, historic sites, commercial firms, residential buildings and memorial archways. Almost 360 bridges are clearly shown, upholding the city’s reputation as the Venice of the East.


Descriptions of the map will be presented and comparisons between this 1229 map and maps of Suzhou in subsequent dynasties/periods will be made. Also discussed in this presentation will be a number of historically significant events that took place in and around Suzhou as they impact China as a whole and beyond.




Emeritus professor Joseph Wang is a native of Suzhou, China, the topic of this presentation. A founding member of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, he joined the faculty in 1965 along with the founding dean of the College, Charles Burchard. In his long term tenure at the school, he has worked with students of all levels of studies and served as “Secretary of Graduate Studies” in architecture (a historic title for Chairman) for a number of years. Educated in three continents, Joe is well-published with two books, five book chapters, and numerous papers to his credit.