Hangzhou first gained national prominence during the short-lived Sui dynasty. When the Grand Canal was constructed in that era, the city became its southern terminus. Unlike Kaifeng, the Northern Song capital, which remained more or less a consumers' market, with government functionaries and their associates providing most of the purchasing power, Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song, became a major manufacturing center. Shipbuilding, silk production, and porcelain- and paper-making increased dramatically in this city during the Southern Song.
For the modern tourist, West Lake, within walking distance of the city, is a major attraction. Originally a shallow bay surrounded by mountains, it remained so as late as the early seventh century. But when its outlet to the mouth of the Qiantang River silted up a lake was formed, and the trapped water in time became desalinated.
The lake is only slightly smaller than the city itself. Two causeways shorten the distance from points on the curved northwest and west shores. The Bai Causeway, named after Bai Juyi (p. 4), leads to the island of Solitary Hill. The Su Causeway is named in memory of Su Dongpo, the poet, painter, and prose-writer who in the eleventh cen-