Katya Knyazeva's scrapbook

Shanghai history and architecture

Shanghai to Bologna
Dragon Chi

Bologna's old city is about 40–45% larger than Shanghai's old town:

(the two maps are of the same scale)

Dragon Chi
Downtown Shanghai is undergoing many changes under the pretext of restoring the original look of the streets, but these changes are often far from positive. One of the recent examples is the beautiful shady grove that used to line Changle Rd, at the corner of South Shaanxi Rd. I didn't photograph it at the time, and now it's too late: all the beautiful pines, palmtrees and grasses all been cut down, to make way for a preposterous commercial development.

Still visible here, through Baidu Time Machine.

Beauty and fashion on Rue Cardinal Mercier
Dragon Chi
I was going through North China Desk Hong Lists in Zikawei library and came across the name of Mme Anna Iskandrian, the beauty expert, whose store was in Grosvenor Gardens, on 209 Rue Cardinal Mercier. She was also the official agent of the British beauty brand Elizabeth Bock. This reminded me of these two pictures from the UWM archives; now it's clear they were taken outside Mme Anna's shop:

[UWM collections]

The Grosvenor Gardens housed mostly beauty salons and fashion stores, practically all of which were operated by Russian women, like the Grosvenor Beauty Parlor of Mme Tabourissky. This stretch of Rue Cardinal Mercier was sometimes called "The Fifth Avenue of Shanghai" (one store named itself just that).



The young Russian journalist Natalyia Ilyina took a walk along this street soon after her arrival in Shanghai from Harbin:

“It was a typical rainy day in January. I walked along the beautiful Rue Cardinal Mercier. To my right was the white marble French Club and the garden wall; opposite the club was the shopping quarter – cosmetics, clothing, accessories – with brightly lit and carefully arranged shop windows. Cars were rolling past me, rickshaws trotted by, ladies wrapped in furs went in and out of the shops. The city no longer seemed dangerous....”


Russian champions of old Shanghai
Dragon Chi
Inspired by the Summer Olympics 2016, here is a selection of photographs that illustrate the sporting life of Russians in Shanghai in the 1930s:

Russian bicycle team, winners of Shanghai open races, 1929, celebrating the first minutes of their victory with their friends.
Nr. 6 is N.Nikonov, No. 4 is N.I. Peliovin and No. 5 is N. Aliabushev.

The boxers of the Russian Regiment in 1935.
1 – the coach Oleg Shevelev, known as Babe Russ; 2 – N. Yuzefovich; 3 – L. Kamenev; 4 – N. Solomin; 5 – B. Fedotov; 6 – F. Charov; 7 – G. Peregaitsev; 8 – V. Liapunov.

The First Volleyball Team of the Shanghai Russian Regiment S.V.C., 1935.
1 – N. Shestoboyev; 2 – N. Yuzefovich; 3 – L. Dyaksis; 4 – V. Novokshenov; 5 – Yu. Chernov; 6 – S. Sogrin, the team captain.

Members of the Russian Sporting Association Sokol together with the studens of Ecole Remi perform gymnastics at the Canidrome, in 1934.

Girls and boys from the club "Sokol" perform a pyramid, in 1931. The society rented two rooms in the Russian Officers' Club, at 123 Rue Massenet (Sinan Lu), and used the garden for their practice. The building, identical to Zhou Enlai's house museum, is now part of the Sinan Mansions development.

But back to the 1930s:

Gennady Cherdyntzeff, who has just won the races on his horse Jews Harp, is photographed in the company of his wife, in 1933. Cherdyntzeff raced one mile in 2 minutes and 6.5 seconds. He was a co-owner and co-founder of the Far Eastern Credit Co.

Crowded public stands of the Shanghai Race Club during a sporting event.

Russian football team "Sokol I" during a game at the Racecourse. Center, left – team captain Sergey Khvorov.

100-meter dash at the Shanghai Olympic Games in 1935. The girl on the left is Musia Malinovskaya, a member of the Sokol club.

Pole vault winners at the Shanghai Olympic Games, in 1935. First place – Pavel Platonoff; third place – S.F. Kushnir (Sokol).

S.F. Kushnir during the pole vault exercise at the Shanghai Olympic Games, 1935. His jump earned him the third place.

G.P. Moutovkine, Shanghai's shot put champion.

P.I. Skoobin-Makaroff, heavyweight wrestler. Lived in Shanghai from 1931. Performed the lifting of a horse and a car, a fight with bull, and other numbers.

George Bauman, military pilot, hero of the WWI, wrestler, world champion and winner of mutiple prizes in Shanghai, where he lived from 1922 until his sudden death of a heart attack in 1932.

Wrestling match at the Knige's Academy of Physical Culture, June 1932. Many Russian wrestlers took part in this event, including the former world champion George Bauman who wrestled with the American marine champion Charlie Niessen. In this frame, the diminutive Russian V. Zinevich has defeated the much heavier American wrestler Lobacky.

And now, some active leisure:

Captain E.V.Bedrin, a bodyguard in the service of Lord Li, is diving into the swimming pool in his employer's opulent estate on Great Western Road!

All photos are from Vladimir Zhiganov's Russkie v Shanghae (Russians in Shanghai), 1936.

An ad from the Russian-language "Guide to Shanghai," by G. Sunnerberg, published in Harbin in 1919
Dragon Chi

(the image is courtesy of Michael Rank)

The ad reads:
"Grand Hotel Kalee in Shanghai
(under the flag of the North-American States)
Located in the center of the business district
130 rooms,
each with its own bathroom.
Comfortable drawing rooms and places for rest and reading.
Best kitchen in the city.
Managed by A. Mildner"

(Chronicle of Shanghai and China, 1919)

Here's one of the rooms:

And the private bathroom:

(Shanghai Library historic photos project)

The hotel was established in 1887, on the southeast corner of Jiujiang Rd and Jiangxi Rd. Here is another view, behind the little park belonging to the Holy Trinity Church.

Here is another ad for it, from Wikipedia:

In 1930 the American Consulate moved into the building. What happened to the beautiful Kalee? The SMC report from 1937 has the answer:

The last observation is quite in the spirit of Shanghai.

The corner today, occupied by the building of Chongqing's Juxingcheng Bank 聚兴诚银行, built in 1937, the same year the Kalee was demolished.

Upcoming walk: Russians in the French Concession
Dragon Chi
Sunday August 21, 2pm/ WALK: Boulevard Moscou: Russians in the French Concession
RMB 200, Historic Shanghai Members/RMB 250 Non-members

RSVP: info@historic-shanghai.com. Meeting point will be advised upon reservation confirmation.

If you were to walk down Avenue Joffre (Huaihai Road) in the 1930s, you would hear the shoppers around you speaking Russian, see shop signs in Cyrillic, and understand why the French nicknamed this street “Boulevard Moscou”. White Russians, fleeing the Russian Revolution, made the French Concession their refuge, and created an extraordinary community.

Katya Knyazeva takes us on a walk through the legacy and lore of Russians in old Shanghai. From onion-domed Orthodox Cathedrals to Art Deco masterpieces, lilongs and love nests, she connects delightful locations with delicious stories. We’ll hear about the risky romance of the Soviet spy Richard Sorge and the writer Agnes Smedley, the hidden treasures of the mad aristocrat Xenia Pavlova, and the tricks of the Gypsy ventriloquist Victoria Livanoff, who swindled three governments.

Katya Knyazeva is a journalist, photographer, and historian of old Shanghai. A native of Siberia, she has lived in Shanghai since 2006, where her focus has been Russians in old Shanghai and the rapidly disappearing old Chinese city. She is the author of Shanghai Old Town: Topography of a Phantom City (2015).

Views of the whole northwest quarter of the old town...
Dragon Chi
...from a residential high-rise on Henan Rd/Fangbang Rd.

Looking southwest. Fuxing Rd is in the distance, left side, spanned by a pedestrian bridge.

Yiqing St 贻庆街.

Jinjiafang 金家坊 and Honglangan St 红栏杆街.

The redeveloped northern part:

Luxiangyuan Rd 露香园路 and Dajing Rd 大境路.

New old stone
Dragon Chi

I found this stone with [S]oochow April 1901 in the old town, inside an overbuilt courtyard house at Xitangjia Lane (西唐家弄). Formerly, there was a Xu family ancestral temple here. The Xus were numerous and had several shrines throughout the city, and a large domain at Xujiahui. I'm not yet sure about the connection of the stone to its location; it coule have been dragged from elsewhere.

Red Garden
Dragon Chi
At the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall there is a 1967 map wtih Yuyuan renamed "Red Garden" (红园). Those were the days! (During the Cultural Revoltion the Normandie Apartments became Anti-Revisionism Tower.)

Just a funny "French model"
Dragon Chi


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