The Bund Shanghai
one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, The Bund is the “name card” of Shanghai. The new Bund lies along the west bank
of the Huangpu River between Waibaidu Bridge and Nanpu Bridge. The
four-kilometer-long thoroughfare was listed as one of the top 10 new
scenes and tourist attractions in the city. Along the Bund, there
are buildings of different Chinese and Western architectural styles,
nicknamed the contemporary world expo of architectures. This cultural
heritage of mankind has epitomized the modern history of Shanghai.
The modern skyline at the Lujiazui across the Huangpu River is within
easy view, and as the night sets in, the scene along the Bund is fantastic.
History of the Bund
"Bund" derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront and that is what it was at the beginning when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. The Bund became the site of some of the earliest foreign settlements after Shanghai was opened as one of five "Treaty Ports" specified in the Nanjing Treaty that ended the Opium War in 1842. Because of its proximity to the Yangtze River - the path into central China, Shanghai grew rapidly as the economic center of foreign interests.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Bund became the financial and political center of the international community in China. It was China's Wall Street, as Shanghai's financial market became the third largest in the world (behind London and New York). Nearby were located a number of important consulates, including the British, American, Russian and Japanese.
The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund is a "museum of international architecture" with the various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance, making the picturesque Bund more European than Chinese in character. Although they were not designed by the same person or built in the same period, they achieved a harmonic outline when viewed as a whole.
Unfortunately, since 1949, many of the structures were subdivided into government offices, department stores or storage areas, furnishings were sold off or destroyed, and architectural features covered.
The Bund was left dark for decades. However, great change took place with the revitalization of Shanghai, strongly encouraged by a visit of Deng Xiaoping in 1992. The next year the plans for the Bund were finalized and the renewal of Shanghai began in earnest. The Bund resumes its role as a central business district (CBD) and now the lights are coming back up.Essentials
Stretching for 1.6km (1 mile) along the western edge of the Huangpu River, the Bund runs from Suzhou Creek in the north to Jinling Lu in the south. On the west side of the main avenue (Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu) that runs along the Bund are the colonial edifices of yore, while the eastern side is taken by the Bund Promenade, a raised embankment that acts as a dike against the Huangpu River, because downtown itself, situated on a soggy delta, is slowly sinking below the river level. The Bund is pleasant to stroll at any hour but is often crowded with tourists and vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. Early mornings see tai-chi practitioners and ballroom dancers out in force. Early to mid-morning on weekdays is best for avoiding the crowds and for photography. If possible, try to return here at night when the Bund buildings are all aglow.
Exploring the Bund
The highlights of the Bund are undoubtedly the colonial-era buildings lining the west side of Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, standouts of which include the former British Consulate, Customs House, former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, and Peace Hotel.
Besides its landmark colonial architecture, however, the Bund has a few other small attractions. On its north end, Suzhou Creek enters the Huangpu River beneath the 18m-wide (60-ft.) iron Waibaidu Bridge, built in 1906 to replace the original wooden toll bridge constructed in 1856 by an English businessman. On the river shore now stands a granite obelisk, Monument to the People's Heroes, dedicated to Chinese patriots (as defined by the Communist Party), beginning in the 1840s. It was erected in 1993 and contains a small historical gallery at its base, the Bund History Museum (daily 9am-4:15pm; free admission), which contains a few artifacts and some interesting photographs of the Bund. Just south of the monument, at street level, is the park Huangpu Gongyuan (daily 6am-6pm in winter, until 10pm in summer; free admission), originally the British Public Gardens built in 1868. In the early days, only Chinese servants accompanying their foreign masters were allowed to enter the park. Dogs were also prohibited, leading in later years to the apocryphal NO CHINESE OR DOGS ALLOWED sign being attributed to the park. The park was eventually opened to Chinese in 1926. South of here, across from the Peace Hotel, is the entrance to the pedestrian Bund Sightseeing Tunnel (Waitan Guanguang Suidao; daily 8am-10:30pm, to 10pm Nov-Apr; admission ¥40/$5 round-trip, ¥30/$4 one-way) located under the Huangpu. Complete with tram cars and light show, the tunnel connects downtown Shanghai to the Pudong New Area and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Also here is a statue of Chen Yi, Shanghai's first mayor after 1949 and a dead ringer for Mao Zedong, at least in bronze.
Farther south down the Bund Promenade are scores of vendors, a
few restaurants, and excellent overlooks facing the river. Near
the southern end of the promenade are the docks for the Huangpu
River cruises. You'll also notice picturesque Signal Tower, a slender
round brick tower that served as a control tower for river traffic
during colonial days. First built in 1884, the tower was rebuilt
in 1907, and also relayed weather reports. In 1993 during the widening
of Zhongshan Lu, it was moved 20m (65 ft.) to its current site.
Today, a handful of photographs inside show the early days of the
Bund, but you can no longer climb to the lookout.
Addresss: Huangpu District
Recommending Time for a Visit: anytime, special at nighe from 20:00-22:00
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