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  While Shanghai's historical monuments may not compare with China’s older cities, the city's appeal lies in its vitality, its 1930s European architecture in a medley of styles, and its bustling, tree-lined streets, crammed with shops. Above all, Shanghai still has a style and flair quite different from any other Chinese city.


  Walking along Zhongshan Lu, you can enjoy the faded grandeur of old Shanghai, for this wasYangtze River the Bund, where the great trading houses and banks had their headquarters. On one side is a line of imposing 1930s European buildings, while on the other is the Huangpu River. The Bund has undergone a face-lift, which included raising the level of the breakwater to prevent flooding. The raised pedestrian promenade gives a good view of the HuangPu River with the futuristic-looking buildings of the new Pudong area on the other side. As before, the improved riverside promenade of the Bund continually throngs with Shanghai residents, Who stroll about in the hot summer evenings and in the mornings practice taijiquan and martial arts.

  The Bank of China is in one of the few buildings still run by its original occupants. The former Shanghai Club at 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu was the Dongfeng Hotel unti1 it closed in 1998. The Long Bar was, in its heyday, the longest in the world. Built in 1910, this was a bastion for the elite classes. Padlocked iron gates now stop visitors from entering the building site but the facade has been repainted recently making it now the most outstanding building on the Bund.

  A branch of the Pudong Development Bank is now housed in the columned building that was the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank headquarters, built in 1923. Visit the coffee shop there to read, relax and absorb the atmosphere of the Bund. The green-roofed Peace Hotel wa5 the handsome Cathay Hotel, where Noel Coward wrote his p1ay Private Lives in 1928. The Palace Hotel, opposite, now the south building of the Peace Hotel was Sassoon House (named after one of Shanghai's Jewish tycoons). It was built in 1906.

  At the end of the Bund, where Suzhou Creek meets the Huangpu, is HuangPu Park. It was first laid out by the British, who called it the Public Gardens. In the old days British residents held Sunday afternoon concerts and promenaded there. Though the regulations of the International Settlement did indeed forbid Chinese (other than servants and nannies) as well as dogs from the gardens, the infamous sign 'No Dogs or Chinese Allowed' never existed. The waterfront building with the clock tower is the old Customs House built in 1927.

  With the multitude of choices for crossing the Huangpu River from Puxi to Pudong, still none can surpass the ferry ride. Get on at Shiliupu Wharf on Zhongshang Dong Er Lu. This short trip offers the best view of the Bund.

  Start your tour of the waterfront here. The museum is in the old Signal Tower on the Bund at Zhongshan Dong Er Lu and has many old black and white photographs of Shanghai's waterfront dating from treaty port days. The Signal Tower was built in 1865 and was originally located a few yards away before being moved to its current location in 1993. In l999 it was restored as a museum. Climb the circular staircase inside the tower for a wonderful view of the present-day Bund.

  Naning Lu, the main shopping street of Shanghai, is a pedestrian mall between Xizang Lu and Yangtze RiverHenan Lu. East and west of the mall, it stretches for nearly ten kilometers (six miles) from the Bund to Jiangsu Lu. Few of the original pre-war department stores buildings have changed since the 1930s except in name. For the Chinese, Shanghai Offers the best shopping in the country, so this street is constantly jammed with out of towers as well as local shoppers. Nanjing Lu passes People’s Park and the Shanghai Art Museum, formerly the Municipal Library and before that the Shanghai Race Course Club. English-speaking Shanghainese gather here, especially on Sunday mornings, to practise among them.

  Another important shopping street was Huaihai Lu, which was the main street of the French Concession, then called Avenue Jeffrey. The famous Huating Street Market was closed down in 2000 and moved to a new location at Xian yang Lu and Huaihai Lu, near the Shanxi Nan Lu metro station. It is a popular place but not quite as colorful as the old one.

  Just one block away from Xizang Nan Lu and bisecting Fuxing Lu, is Dongtai Lu Antique Market Yangtze Riverstill the main antique market in the city, lined with three blocks of shops and stalls. Beware cheap fakes but a few remarkable genuine items can be found, including original posters of Sun Zhongshan flanked by the Guomindang state and party flags or stone Buddha heads.

  Book stores--antiquarian and modern--are a specialty of Fuzhou Lu, as well as stationery and calligraphy accoutrements; though in earlier times it was a red-light district.

  As a word of caution, protect your wallet and avoid the male and female touts who hover around the main streets traveled by visiting foreigners (Lao Wei) such as Rui jin Lu where it runs beside the Garden Hotel, Huai Hai Zhong Lu in front of Isetan Department Store, Nanjing Lu near the Peace Hotel, and Hengshan Lu. They will approach foreign men in particular and chant "Shanghai Ladies, Shanghai Ladies.' They may physically grab your arm and try to steer you in their chosen direction. Lf you go with them, you will be 'entertained' at your expense but not with your prior consent! You will have to pay the bill.

  Renmin Lu and Zhonghua Lu form the perimeters of the old city wall (destroyed in 1912) that enclosed the Chinese City. Still within this area, which includes the famous Yu Garden, visitor’s jost1e in the ever-crowded alleys of the bazaar, whose small shops, restaurants and teahouses provide local specialties of all descriptions? The narrow streets nearby reveal an intimate and fascinating picture of daily life. In the old town is Fuyu Lu-- formerly the flea market, this role has been lost now due to urban development.

  Should you get tired of walking around the Old Town you can always rest in the beautiful old HUXINTlNG (mid-lake) Teahouse? This five-sided pavilion stands in the middle of a rectangular pool near the entrance to the Yu Garden, connected to land by the Bridge of Nine Turnings (zigzagged, it is said, because evil spirits cannot go round corners).

  This teahouse has an admirable collection of genuine Shanghai historical artifacts such as old maps, a gramophone which plays records, copies of 'Shanghai Volunteers Corps' publications, and a wall poster of Sun Zhongshan. Although the food and drinks prices are high, the atmosphere is delightful. It is to be found at 385 Fangbang Zhong Lu.

  This Garden of Leisurely Repose on the northeast side of the old Chinese Town was first Yangtze Riverestablished in 1559 by a mandarin named Pan. Laid out by a landscape artist, Zhang Nanyang, it has become one of the most renowned gardens in southern China. As the Pan family fortunes declined, the garden was neglected and overgrown until it was restored in l760 by the local gentry. It became the headquarters of the Dagger Society in l853, during the early part of the Taiping Rebellion, and was badly damaged. Part of the garden became the bazaar and local guildhalls, but over 20,000 square meters (24,000 square yards) remain of tall rockeries, halls, ponds and Pavilions linked by zigzag corridors. The Spring Hall, used by the Dagger Society, houses exhibits of coins and weapons from that period. The five-ton porous Exquisite Jade Rock is one of the attractions: legend claims that when it was discovered some 900 years ago, it joined Emperor Huizong's collection of weird and grotesque rocks before finding a resting place in Yu Garden.


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What to See in Shanghai (2)

Shanghai's History Through Its Names

Cool Depths

Revolutionary Sites

Excursions from Shanghai