Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Houses of Shanyin Lu

Shanyin Lu is a street near the Beijing North Road shopping area and the Duolun Lu Old Street. The obvious reason to go is because of Wanshou Zhai, a small hole in the wall that makes not only very good (if somewhat inconsistent) xiaolongbao, but also excellent noodles and won-tons. Wanshou Zhai is right at the base of Shanyin Lu, it's a short street and I think it's worth continuing on to have a look at the old, colonial-style buildings of the area. They're of a higher quality than the shikumen that are being pulled down all across Shanghai, from what I gather Sichuan Bei Lu was a top spot to be back around 1930. A lot of China's most famous Kunmingtang figures lived there, as well as many of the literati, and Lu Xun, a proto-revolutionary author proclaimed “China's best author,” had a well-preserved home here:

It's brick buildings, three stories tall, with air conditioners installed. But there's other styles represented, the front gate to this apartment, with stucco and arches, looks like a half-attempt at a Spanish facade:

A number of the buildings have plaques on the outside, giving a few historical facts about the building, and in an ideal world, that means the building won't get torn down to make a ghost mall or another 5-star hotel.

Most interesting, to me, was larger Edwardian-looking mansions, in the classic Shanghai style of blue and orange bricks.

I don't know much about these buildings, but I'm very curious. I imagine they were originally built as a small apartment building, in the model of the author's apartment from Scenes of City Life, and are currently stuffed solid with people? Anyway, the laundry, and the accruements of daily life, seem to be overflowing out of the house:

And generally it's just an interesting area to look around, you don't see curved brick buildings every day of the week:


Anonymous said...

Finally a post that befits your blog title, I enjoyed reading it and hope to check it out soon.

Still waiting for you to hit the slummier sides of Shanghai. I want more dirt, grime, filth and putrid smells. It still exist in Shanghai, right? Ted

Rebekah said...

Hi Jeff,

Great post!
I reposted part of this post on the travel forum of

I would be interested in reposting more of your stories and travel-related work in future on our forum. Drop me an email if you are interested.

Forum Editor

FredDestin said...

If you ever wonder whether it's worth writing your blog, well it is !! Preparing a trip to Shanghai and so glad I stumbled across this, rather than clicking though pages of Trip Advisor SEO'ed stuff I can just come here and do most of the prep work ! Thanks for this from a fellow blogger.
All the best !

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