The focus of this dissertation is the history of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, and the relationship between its elite class and the Qing (1644–1912) state. Jinan was much less commercially prosperous than the better-studied cities of central and southern China. Nevertheless, connections to other places were an important part of how Jinan’s elite identified with their city and reproduced their social status. Because of Jinan’s administrative importance, many of these connections were related to the operation of the Qing government. I frame the relationship between the state and local communities in terms of state-building and place-making, emphasizing that both processes are always ongoing and that they are mutually constitutive, not autonomous of each other. Although the mutual dependence of this relationship is especially apparent in Jinan, this framework helps explain similar patterns of what scholars have thought of as state-society interactions elsewhere. By engaging with scholarship on the U.S. state, I show that this pattern of state-building was not unique to China and suggest new possibilities for comparative analysis of state-building around the world. The dissertation spans three periods of Jinan’s history: the early and high Qing, the second half of the nineteenth century, and the early twentieth century. The over-arching chronological narrative is that the robust state-building of the first half of the Qing Dynasty was accompanied by and proceeded through intensive place-making and that this pattern persisted through the crises of the nineteenth century and continued to animate the late Qing reforms and the opposition of Jinan’s elite to the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing. I analyze how Qing state-building incorporated a plurality of place-making projects through the lens of spatial politics. I argue that Qing spatial politics reflected many imperial characteristics but that it also contained nationalizing elements and so is best understood as a hybrid political formation. This idea of imperial-national hybridity helps explain the existence of a form of nationalism in early modern China, the growth of nationalism within the imperial state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the persistence of imperial aspects of spatial politics beyond the fall of the Qing Dynasty.