Courtyard of Shi Family
The Shi family (http://www.china.org.cn/english/olympic/218517.htm) was one of the eight most powerful families in Tianjin in the late Qing Dynasty. It grew rich through trading grain and cotton, using the convenient transportation of the Grand Canal.
Having amassed enough money, the family bought land and build their own houses, and opened shops, factories and private banks to multiply their wealth. The family lived in Yangliuqing, a town not far from downtown Tianjin, for over 200 years. It is said that, during the reign period of Emperor Jiaqing, the Shi family owned thousands of hectares of land and 500 houses.