The name of the city means "long spring" in Chinese. Between 1932 and 1945, Changchun was renamed Hsinking (Chinese: 新京; pinyin: Xīnjīng; literally: "new capital") by the Japanese as it became the capital of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, occupying modern Northeast China. After the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Changchun was established as the provincial capital of Jilin in 1954.
Known locally as China's "City of Automobiles", Changchun is an important industrial base with a particular focus on the automotive sector. Because of its key role in the domestic automobile industry, Changchun was sometimes referred to as the "Detroit of China." Apart from this industrial aspect, Changchun is also one of four "National Garden Cities" awarded by the Ministry of Construction of P.R. China in 2001 due to its high urban greening rate.
Changchun was initially established on imperial decree as a small trading post and frontier village during the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor in the Qing dynasty. Trading activities mainly involved furs and other natural products during this period. In 1800, the Jiaqing Emperor selected a small village on the east bank of the Yitong River and named it "Changchun Ting".
In May 1898, Changchun got its first railway station, located in Kuancheng, part of the railway from Harbin to Lüshun (the southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway), constructed by the Russian Empire.