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Qúxī Road/瞿溪路 is a bustling downtown shanty town with shops selling local snacks and a wet market. Much like much of our downtown used to look like.( Collapse )
It is not easy to wander past Hongkou's 425 Zhoushan Rd / 舟山路425号 without wondering. Everything that should be inside a normal house is actually outside here—the internal wooden framework, a kitchen, etc. There are so many roof gardens that one is even on a sloped roof. What happened to your house, mister?( Collapse )
In the last two posts, we went to see if something remains of the notorious Also A Garden (也是园/ yěshì yuán). To see how hopeless the task is, let's use satellite imagery and historical maps to go gradually back in time as much as we can.
Lane 59 is marked in red, with the pin on the cosy yard we found the lady singing "恭喜你发财 / Wish you wealth!".( Collapse )
Tracing the fate of the once-notorious Yeshiyuan Gardens. Entering a very narrow alley from Ninghe Road Wet Market, we found an idyllic yard on 59 Yeshiyuan Long (也是园弄59弄).
What is now inside the bend of Yeshiyuan Long was heavily damaged during the Battle of Shanghai. An aerial photo from 1939 shows a lunar landscape here. On a map from 1946, we find that landscape marked as Shi Shun Kee Construction Yard ( 史顺记营造厂) with a surprise - a small temple! Can we find it?( Collapse )
"We're sharing our bed with rats here!" The local man's introduction to his home on Xīnguǎng Road /新广路265弄 is harsh.
While downtown Hongkou around him has seen hasty development these years, the messy patchwork of lanes his home is part of stands out as a wild exception. Xīnguǎng Road is near the famed Qiújiāng Road electronics market /虬江路市场, that is waiting for redevelopment. But here, the shaky shanties, one to three stories high, seem to be remaining untouched.( Collapse )
The foul air of fish and seafood. Not much of the Ninghe Road raw food market is still there, but enough to scent the air. Like all the quarters around here, the bell is also tolling to Ninghe Road - most of the doorways are walled up and no pigeons reside in the rooftop gēzilóu tower (鸽子楼) anymore.( Collapse )
We are in the downtown of an ancient metropolis. Yet, the windows and doors are mostly walled up with concrete blocks, as far as you can see. The few people who are still in the street have found here a quiet corner to gather and sort rubbish. Locals with their memories have been relocated. Silence on the street. The "gangster" with an apple tattoo on the back of his head is local, though. Go and talk to him, you'll find out lots of interesting stories!
Not all the doorways are barricaded. If you peek in, you will see invaluable treasures. Drawing Shanghai went out for a treasure hunt, to find what is hidden in Laoximen, waiting for its faith.( Collapse )
Royal Asiatic Society urged Drawing Shanghai to go sketching around their former headquarters on Huqiu Road and capture the vanishing way of life of its residents.
What once was the British share of Shanghai foreign concessions, found its beginnings on the marsh that used to be here until the 19th century. The magnificent buildings we find here still waiting for the inevitable gentrification. Here it will be different from the Walled City, as the buildings are protected as heritage. Living conditions and structures inside are nevertheless meager and need a lot of renovation. RAS wanted us to capture the traces of history that these proud buildings have preserved, as the imminent renovation will wipe most of these away for good.
This time we picked the former Shanghai Bank Union Building /上海银行公会 on Hong Kong Road /香港路 — a building closest to an ancient Roman temple one can find in Shanghai. Behind its impressive Corinthian-style columns we can also see propaganda slogans from the "cultural revolution" times. This still life attracted the best part of us. You can continue reading about its architect Guò Yǎngmò here.