Yeshiyuan revisited. Wish you Wealth!
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?
The inner part of the lane has seen one of the most chaotic building activities in post-war Shanghai, with shaky homes squeezed around alleys that are merely wide enough to pass a chubbier person sideways.
On the spot where the temple was marked in 1946, we found the alley passing an open-air kitchen with a lady, cosily cutting the tips of river snail shells (螺丝) for her lunch. Standing behind her kitchen bench, she overlooks the alley, just where it explodes into a homelike garden complete with a pergola (棚/péng) for growing sīguā (丝瓜), osmanthus trees in pots, bike parking etc. We can just imagine how lush this alley will be when summer comes, with a green ceiling of foliage and hanging vegetables. The garden is like a small castle, with walls of houses on all four sides, two to three-storey high.
The only one who disturbs the tranquillity is the man looking for scrap appliances. He passes by once every hour with his loudspeaker shouting "旧电脑，冰箱，旧彩电，旧手机～～～～～～～～～～". He likes to sing out the last word!
You can see the history of Lane 59 in the timeline of historic maps in my next post.