Zhengzhou is situated to the south of the Yellow River where its valley broadens into the great plain and at the eastern extremity of the Xionger Mountains. Zhengzhou is at the crossing point of the north–south route skirting the Taihang Mountains and the mountains of western Henan and the east–west route along the southern bank of the Yellow River.
The name of Zhengzhou came from Sui Dynasty (AD 581), albeit it was located in Chenggao, another town. The government moved to the contemporary city during Tang Dynasty. It achieved its greatest importance under the Sui (AD 581–618), Tang (618–907), and early Song (960–1127) dynasties, when it was the terminus of the New Bian Canal, which joined the Yellow River to the northwest. There, at a place called Heyin, a vast granary complex was established to supply the capitals at Luoyang and Chang'an to the west and the frontier armies to the north. In the Song period, however, the transfer of the capital eastward to Kaifeng robbed Zhengzhou of much of its importance.
In 1903 the Beijing–Hankou railway arrived at Zhengzhou, and in 1909 the first stage of the Longhai Railway gave it an east–west link to Kaifeng and Luoyang; it later was extended eastward to the coast at Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, and westward to Xi'an (Chang'an), Shaanxi Province, as well as to western Shaanxi. Zhengzhou thus became a major rail junction and a regional center for cotton, grain, peanuts (groundnuts), and other agricultural produce. Early in 1923 a workers' strike began in Zhengzhou and spread along the rail line before it was suppressed; a 14-story double tower in the center of the city commemorates the strike. In 1938, during the war with Japan, the retreating Chinese Nationalist Army blew up the dikes retaining the Yellow River about 32 km northeast of the town, flooding a vast area. At about the same time, in their drive to relocate industry in the interior far from the invading Japanese, the Chinese transferred all the local plants to the west.
When the Communist government came to power in 1949, Zhengzhou was a commercial and administrative center, but it had virtually no industry. Because it was the center of a densely populated cotton-growing district, it was developed into an industrial city, with industry concentrated on the west side so that the prevailing northeast winds would blow fumes away from the city. There are cotton-textile plants, spinning mills, textile-machinery works, flour mills, tobacco and cigarette factories, and various food-processing plants; coal is mined nearby.
Zhengzhou also has a locomotive and rolling-stock repair plant, a tractor-assembly plant, and a thermal generating station. The city's industrial growth has resulted in a large increase in population, largely of industrial workers from the north. Trees have been planted throughout the city's more than 23 km² area, holding down the sand that formerly blew in thick gusts through the city. A water diversion project and pumping station, built in 1972, has provided irrigation for the surrounding countryside. The city has an agricultural university.
List of the CPC Party Chiefs of Zhengzhou:
Zhengzhou is a flat industrial city set amid the farmland of the central China plain. While it is not a tourist city, it is a good example of a remarkably fast-changing city in China without some of the tourism clutter. Note: Finding people to speak English can be a challenge sometimes so come prepared with some Chinese Language or the places you wish to go to written down for taxi drivers.
The best known tourist attraction is Shaolin Temple (少林寺), which is about more than 50 miles southwest of Zhengzhou. Shaolin Temple is famous not only as one of China's important Buddhist shrines, but also as the ancient center of Chinese kung-fu. Built in 495, the temple was originally designed to house Batuo, a celebrated Indian monk, who, after many years of spreading Buddhism, was later known as Fo Tuo, or Grand Monk. In 537, another famous Indian monk, Boddhidharma, settled in the temple, and as legend has it, created a sort of primitive bare-hand combat routine called “xingyi boxing” after he had sat meditating in a cave for nine years. That started the kung-fu tradition at the temple
Zhengzhou's most notable cultural institution is the Henan Museum (河南省博物院), one of China's most important museums. The provincial museum in particular requires at least a half day visit to do justice to the many impressive exhibits, which range from prehistoric times, including dinosaur bones, up through the Qing Dynasty. The admission price was 20 yuan, but has now been made free of charge.
Zhengzhou has a zoo: 动物园 (Dong Wu Yuan) located on Hua Yuan Lu (花园路). The Erqi Memorial Tower is located in the city center.
There are the remains of the Shang Dynasty Ruins in Zhengzhou's west side located around Shangcheng lu (商城路). Mostly this consists of a 5,000 year old dirt wall which formed part of the old city's defenses. While it is a good walk, do not expect to find many other relics of this time; additionally, the city wall is cut in three places by new roads that have been built recently.
There is a large water, light, and music show on display in Zheng Dong Xin Qu (New Eastern District) during the weekend at 8.30 pm in the summer and 8.00 pm during the winter months. The show is about 25 minutes long and is free of charge. Arrive before 8.00 for a seat; the show times do change from 8.00 and 8.30 without warning.
Zhengzhou is easy to reach from Beijing (between 5-8 hours)and Shanghai (8-14 hours) by train. Further traveling to Xi'an (8 hours, no fast train) is also recommended by train. A tourist-friendly train leaves from Zhengzhou to Xi'An in the morning daily.
Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport is 37 km southeast of the city centre. An airport shuttle bus runs between the airport and the Civil Aviation Hotel 民航大酒店 (Mín Háng dà jiǔ diàn) on 金水路 (Jīnshuĭ Lù) in the heart of Zhengzhou. It costs 15 yuan per person to ride the shuttle in either direction. A taxi from the airport will cost about 140 yuan, while a taxi to the airport will cost about 90 yuan. There will also be an extra 10 yuan toll fee for the taxi using the airport expressway.
There are several styles of accommodation in Zhengzhou, from 5 star luxury style hotels to hostels. A few of the hotels are: Holiday Inn Express, Sofitel, Golden Palace Hotel, Pearl Hotel, and the Hotel Home. The majority of the hotels are near the central business district or the rail station.