Past Glory of Shanghai

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Chapter 2
Past Glory of Shanghai

T he huangpu river is not only the symbol of Shanghai's long cultural heritage, but also a witness to Shanghai's history.

1. History

In 1265, a town named Shanghai was set up on Puxi Bank in presentday Shanghai. In 1291, Shanghai County was set up, marking the start of Shanghai's city construction. In the 16th century, Shanghai became the center of the cotton-textile handicraft industry in China. In the mid-19th century, Shanghai became a prosperous port, gathering merchants from around the world. After the Opium War, Shanghai was listed as a “treaty port.” In May 1949, Shanghai was liberated, turning a new leaf in its development.

Since 1978, Shanghai has been strengthened through reform and opening-up. Shanghai has witnessed great historical change in terms of economy and society, especially since the 1990s with the openingup and development of Pudong New Area. It has now become the largest economic center in China and an international center of economy, finance, trading, and shipping.

2. An International City in the Past

2.1 Foreign Concessions

Opening and Expansion of Shanghai International Concessions

In 1842—the 22nd year of the reign of Emperor Daoguang during the Qing Dynasty—the Qing Government was compelled to sign the China-Britain Nanjing Treaty, which listed Shanghai as one of the treaty ports. In the following year, Shanghai was formally opened as a treaty port. In 1845, in the name of the Provincial Governor of Shanghai, the Bylaws of Land Lease were published. This prescribed a total area of 830 mu (55.3 hectares [ha]) for British residents, starting from the Huangpu River in the east and extending to Yangjingbang (now Yan'an East Road) in the south. In 1846, the west line of the concession was set at Jielu (now Henan Road Central), and in the north the boundary was Lijiazhang (now Beijing Road East).

In 1848, the British Concession was expanded in the west from Jielu to Nichengbang (now Xizang Road Central), and from Lijiazhuang to the Suzhou River in the north. The total area was increased to 2,820 mu (188 ha). In the same year, the Provincial Governor of Shanghai was made to approve the area around Hongkou as the residential area for American citizens, although the American concession was not defined until 1863 to have an area of 8,865 mu (591 ha). The concession started from a point opposite Hujiehe (Nichengbang, the present south end of Xizang Road North), stretching east along the Suzhou River and Huangpu River to reach Yangshupu and then extending north for about 1.5 kilometers along Yangshupu. A straight line was drawn to connect the starting point opposite Hujiehe.

In 1863, the American and British Concessions merged. Following this, in 1893, the American Concession was extended to Gujiabangkou (now the south end of Jungong Road), from which a line extended west to present-day Wujin Road and Henan Road East. In 1893, the American Concession underwent another expansion toward the west. After this expansion, the northern borderlines of the American Concession started at Xiaoshadu and extended along the Suzhou River to a place around 70 meters west of Nichengbang (today's Xizang Road Central). From there it extended north to the borderlines between Shanghai County and Baoshan County (the present west end of Haining Road). Following this line (i.e., the present west end of Haining Road, the north section of Zhejiang Road North, and Tianmu Road), the northern borderline was pushed forward to the Hongkou River (today's Hengbin River) and to the Gujiabangkou in the east. Its eastern borderline started from Gujiahongkou on the Huangpu River and extended to Yangjingbangkou (now the Bund section of Yan'an Road East). Its southern borderline ran from Yangjingbangkou to Nichengbang (the south end of Xizang Road Central), from where it extended along the Beishou Branch of Daxi Road and Daxi Road (now the east end of Yan'an Road) to Wusheng Temple in Jing'an Temple. Its western border started from Wusheng Temple and extended north to Xiaoshadu on the Suzhou River. By then, the International Concession added up to 34,333 mu (2288.9 ha), 40 times that of its initial size.

While expanding the concession, the colonizers also built roads beyond the concession's borders. Before the establishment of the International Concession, British and American colonizers built 12 roads, most of which were incorporated into the concession area by force when they expanded the International Concession in 1899. From 1901 to 1924, the colonizers built another 34 roads outside the concession in West Shanghai, Zhabei District, and east of Shanghai, covering an area of 49,000 mu (3266.7 ha).

Opening and Expansion of the French Concession

In 1848, after the British and American Concessions were opened, the French Consul Monsieur Mintini proposed to the Provincial Governor of Shanghai that a residential area be opened for the French residents. In the following year, the governor specified an area outside the North Gate of Shanghai County for French settlers, which was later known as the French Concession. This concession ran from Chenghe (now Renmin Road) in the south and extended to Yangjingbang (now Yan'an Road Central) in the north, Guan Yu Temple in Xijiaqiao (now in the area of Xizang Road South) in the

west, and Guangdong Chaozhou Assembly Hall and the east corner of Yangjingbang (now the east section of Jinling Road East) in the east. Its total area was 986 mu (65.7 ha).

In 1861, on the pretext of increased population, the French took another piece of land covering present-day Renmin Road and Fangbang Road East to the Huangpu River. As a result, the French Concession expanded to 1,124 mu (74.9 ha). The French also built many roads, namely French Bund Road, Gongguan Road, Tianzhutang Street (now Sichuan Road South), Zilai Street (now Zijin Road), Jixiang Street (now Jiangxi Road South), Laobeimen Street, and Xinyong'an Street (now Xinyong'an Road).

In 1862, the French Concession established the Shanghai International Concession Council, separating itself from the Headquarters Bureau of the British and American Concessions. The Council was located at the crossing of Assembly Hall Road (now Jinling Road East) facing the Huangpu River. The French Concession set up a Municipal Management Office and Public Engineering Office. By that time, Junlu Road extended beyond the Concession's borders (Xujiahui Road and Zhaojiabang Road) along Fangbang Bridge to Xujiahui for a total length of 8.5 kilometers.

In 1864, French merchants built the largest wharf in Shanghai—the Service Maritime Des Wessageries Imperials Marseilles— between the Yangjingbang Bund to the Xinkai River. In order to connect to the British Concession, the French built the Waiyangjing Bridge between Huangputan Road (now Zhongshan Road East) and the French Bund. The bridge was 31 meters long and ten meters wide. They also occupied more than four hectares of farmland near Baxian Bridge, outside the French Concession, to build cemeteries (present-day Huaihai Park). In 1865, the French built another road in Zhoujingbang along the western section of Assembly Hall Road (now Jinlingzhong Road and Xizangnan Road to Longmen Road). In 1889, the French Concession continued to expand toward the west by constructing Lujiawan Road and Luban Road (now Chongqing Road South), naming the road after the French Ambassador to China.

In February 1898, the French Consul General officially proposed to Cai Jun, then Provincial Governor of Shanghai, to expand the French Concession to include an area outside the West Gate of Shanghai County, the area of Shiliupu in the south, Baxian Bridge in the west, and part of Pudong and Wusong. After a negotiation with the commissioner of the Viceroy of Liangjiang (now Jiangxi, Anhui, and Jiangsu Provinces) in 1899, an agreement was reached on the concession's new boundaries. According to this agreement, the French Concession started in the east from Chenghe (now Renmin Road) and extended west to the Gujiazhai and Guan Yu Temple (now the north section of Chongqing Road South and Chongqing Road Central), in the south to Yanggong Temple, Dinggong Bridge, and Datiebang (now Fangbang Road West, Zizhong Road, Shunchang Road, and Taichang Road), and in the north to Beichangbang (now the west section of Yan'an Road East and east section of Yan'an Road Central). Xujiahui Road was also included, increasing the concession's total area to 2,135 mu (142.3 ha).

Again in 1901, the French built roads beyond the concession in the southwest, including Baochang Road (now the east section of Huaihai Road Central), Shanzhong Road (now Changshu Road), and Shengmuyuan Road (now Ruijin Road Two). In the following year, the French built Longhua Road (now Yandang Road), Dumei Road (now Donghu Road), Baojian Road (now Baoqing Road), Biyun Road (now Fenyang Road), Xuehuali Road (now Jianguo Road East), and Taoerfeisi Road (now the east section of Nanchang Road). By 1907, the French had built 25.39 kilometers of roads beyond their concession's borders. From 1907 to 1911, the French built more roads, which included Julaida Road (now Julu Road), Yaozhujiao Road (now Tianping Road), Fukaisen Road (now Wukang Road), and Jinshenfu Road (now Ruijin Road Two). In 1912, they built Huanlong Road (now Nanchang Road), Qiqi Road (now Yueyang Road), and Fululi Road (now Jianguo Road West).

In July 1914, the French annexed more than 13,000 mu (866.7ha) of land into their concession. This area ran from half of Lianlu Road (now Fangbang Road West) and Lanwei'ai Road (now Xizang Road South) to Xieqiao in the east and Xujiahui Road (now Huashan Road) in the west. From Xieqiao Xujiahui the area extended in the south to Xujiahui Bridge (now Zhaojiabang Road), and in the north to the end of Fuxi Road (now Yan'an Road Central). By then the French Concession covered an area of 15,154 mu (1,010.3 ha) from the Bund to Xujiahui, which was 15 times its initial area in 1849 (Figure 2.2).

2.2. The Bund Section of Nanjing Road

2.3 Prosperous Trading, Finance, and Manufacturing

In the middle of the 20th century, Shanghai was the largest international and financial center in Asia. Within ten years it rose to become not only a hub of foreign and entrepôt trade, but also a domestic inter-port trading center from which goods flowed to every corner of China and products from all over China were exported worldwide.

Up to the late 1940s, Shanghai, the “No. 1 Port in the Far East,” handled half of the total foreign trade of China and three-quarters of its inter-port trading. It became the most prosperous port in the southeastern part of China, commanding coastal and ocean shipping as well as inland river shipping systems and the Yangtze River, and taking up one-fifth of China's total throughput at the beginning of the 20th century. Shanghai Port ranked number seven in the world in the 1930s in terms of import and export shipping tonnage.

The thriving trade and business sectors of Shanghai fueled the development of the financial industry. In the 1930s, there were a large number of financial institutions, as well as a great many domestic and foreign banks. Shanghai had 35% of the 164 domestic banks in China. Members of banking consortia held three-quarters of the gross national banking assets. With 27 of the 29 foreign banks in China setting up their branches in Shanghai, the city attracted 80% of the foreign banking investment in China. Up to the 1940s, there were more than 600 foreign banking offices in Shanghai, attracting about 80% of the total foreign investment in the financial industry of China. With a multitude of domestic and foreign banks, the Bund became Asia's financial center, only second to London and New York in the world.

The progress of the financial industry powered the growth of modern industries in China. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Huangpu River was known as the “Cradle of Modern Industrial Civilization in Shanghai and China,” with more than half of the manufacturing enterprises located along its banks. Hundreds of companies along the river engaged in textiles, silk, tobacco, soap, beer, nonferrous metal, machinery manufacturing, shipbuilding, and even electricity, turning the area into the largest industrial zone of China.

Not only was the city the home of immigrants from more than 18 provinces, such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, Fujiang, and Shanxi, but also home for foreign residents from more than 58 countries and regions, including the U.K., the United States, France, Japan, and Russia. Shanghai was also home to more than 20,000 Jewish refugees suffering the Nazi persecution during World War II. With a population of one million in 1900, Shanghai welcomed settlers from all over the world.

As the city emerged along the Huangpu River, Shanghai played a leading role in promoting the social and economic development of the area south of the Yangtze River, and driving the development

of agriculture and the handicraft industry of Suzhou, Wuxi, and Changzhou as well as the development of the urban economies of Hangzhou, Jiaxing, and Huzhou.

2.4 Culture

Shanghai was not only an economic center, but also a cultural center. It was a gateway for Western learning. Western religions, science and technology, arts and literature, administrative systems, and lifestyles were imported into Shanghai before spreading to other parts of China. Shanghai was a strategic center for new education, full of new schools with modern educational systems that cultivated elite students for China.

It was also a national publishing center, with the setting up and development of translating institutions, Chinese- and foreignlanguage newspapers and periodicals, as well as publishing institutions. In addition, Shanghai was also a melting pot of Chinese and Western cultures and arts, which contributed to a unique Shanghai-style culture.

This open environment enabled Shanghai to develop rapidly from an average coastal county into a world-famous international city, becoming the most prosperous city in the Far East and even throughout Asia as well as one of the biggest international metropolises.