A Vintage Whine: Beijing's Bad Air Days

There was a time when visitors to Beijing used colors other than beige and grey to describe the city. Walter Burlingame, the 15-year-old son of the US Minister to China Anson Burlingame, in an 1866 letter described the climate in Beijing as, "Beautiful. They have nothing but clear weather from the beginning of winter to the end. The weather is about as cold as we have it at home but we do not feel it so much because the air is so dry and clear."