The Hutong is a typical lane or small street in Beijing that originated during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). "Hutong" is a Mongolian word, meaning "water well". During that time, water well is the settlement around which people lived. There are tens of thousands of hutongs surrounding the Forbidden City. In the past, Beijing was composed of countless courtyards. Hutongs were formed when people left a passageway between two courtyards to make entering them more convenient.