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Katya Knyazeva's scrapbook

Shanghai history and architecture

Quick links
My book Shanghai Old Town. The Walled City

See all entries on Shanghai Russians

See all entries on the old town

See old photos of Shanghai on PastVu

See all topics or use the Search box on the top right.

Read my article on Vladimir Zhiganov on academia.edu.

Читать о шанхайской архитектуре по-русски (серия в Магазете).

Shanghai through the lens of Soviet documentary filmmakers (1949–1950)

An absolute must-see! China through the lens of Soviet documentary cinematographers. Unique archival color footage taken in 1949–1950 and never screened before, including lots of vivid scenes in Shanghai and Beijing.

[Click to see many stills (mostly from Shanghai):]
Beijing city wall:

Shanghai, battle for the city in May 1949:

Down goes the Kuomintang flag, thrown off the roof of the Broadway Mansions:

Waving the Communist flag from the Custom House:

View from the Broadway Mansions over Suzhou Creek:

The Bund:

View from Gützlaff Tower over former Avenue Edward VII:

Looking down Tibet Road, I think:

Looking down on the Bund:

Motorboats on Suzhou Creek:

Bubbling Well Road, near the Racecourse:

The iconic view of the Bund:

The HSBC lions:

View over Hongkou:

The French Consulate – has anyone seen it in color before? – and the Messageries Maritimes:

Luban Road, Wastewater treatment plant tower and the French depot:

Living on boats:

Apocalyptic sunset:

Counting the money as the boat passes the Embankment Building:

The gate of the British Consulate, 33 on the Bund:

Traffic in front of the Cathay House:

Passenger in a pedicab:

Pedicab and rickshaw traffic on the Bund:

More passengers caught on camera:

Luban Road:

Overgrown facade of the Picardie:

This could be Beijing; I'm not sure:

Miserable life on the banks of Zhaojiabang:

I own an accessory that was...

#135 Shanghai Architecture Series in Russian: The Tata Building 庚兴洋行
This week's article in the Russian-language architecture series in Magazera introduces the little-known (and frequently misidentified) family home and company headquarters of the Tata & Co., at 8 Rue du Consulat: https://magazeta.com/arc-tata-building/

Here I wrote about the Tata Building in English.

Image: Aleksandra Drozdova.

Two views of the Cathay Mansions 75 years apart
Summer flood of 1940. A sampan is gliding along Rue Cardinal Mercier as if it was a creek, carrying the French Ambassador Henri Cosme to the French Club:

Image: Getty.

Modern-day view of the same spot. The plaque with the "Cathay Mansions" in gothic typeface was covered up in the early 1950s, but could it still be hiding under the cheap-looking marquee for the Chinoise Story 锦庐?

The historic image belongs in a series of three hilarious photographs discovered by .

Sidney D. Gamble's photographs of Shanghai
Duke University has a huge online collection of China photographs by Sidney. D. Gamble, taken in the years 1908–1932, including (at least) 75 photographs of Shanghai:

Last image: Jade Buddha Temple.

From the original description: "Sidney D. Gamble (1890-1968), an avid amateur photographer, began taking pictures in China during his first trip to the country with his family in 1908. He returned three more times between 1917 to 1932 and continued photographing the daily life of Chinese citizens. A sociologist and renowned China scholar, he traveled throughout the country to collect data for social-economic surveys and to photograph urban and rural life, public events, architecture, religious statuary, and the countryside. Gamble used a few of the photographs from his extensive collection in his scholarly publications and in slide lectures, the majority of images were never published or exhibited during his lifetime."

A handy guide to navigating the Shanghai Municipal Archives
Penned by Mátyás Mervay.

I only used the SMA once, when it was still in the Great Northern Telegraph building – not the original one on the Bund, but the 1921 one around the corner on Yan'an Road. Now the SMA is housed in the former Messageries Maritimes headquarters.

The butchering of old Rue du Consulat continues

I do not recommend this read, but I do recommend my investigation into the real origins of arcade houses along Jinling Road, which refutes the "Southern China influence" theory. And here is my older post – or rather, lonely hysterical cry – about the destruction of this inimitable historic street. "Revamping" – what a bad, bad word for Shanghai. Don't let those plutocrats and their pet hacks play with your brain.

Image: Le journal de Shanghai.

#134 Shanghai Architecture Series in Russian: Denis Apartments 德义大楼
We are resuming the Shanghai Architecture Series in Magazeta. A new issue will now come out every fortnight. Link to the Russian text: https://magazeta.com/arc-denis-apartments/

Denis Apartments still behind the construction wall; Lehonos' sculptures not added yet. Image: The China Press, January 1930.

Some of the articles have appeared in English in this blog; I'll keep adding them:
- Japanese Buddhist Temple Nishi Honganji (1931);
- Russo-Chinese Bank (1902);
- Majestic Theatre (1941);
- War Memorial, Kiangse Road Water Tower and Club Concordia;
- The Chinese YMCA (1931);
- Messageries Maritimes (1939);
- Mother Ariadna's Convent and St. Olga's Orphanage (1935);
- Sun Co. Department Store (1936);
- Adeodata Hall, Ezra family residence (1912);
- Great Northern Telegraph (1908);
- Parc Ravinel (1941);
- The Drummond family residence Dennartt, and Victory Terrace (1890s);

Two sculptures by Jacob Lehonos (1929)
Four 8-foot statues used to decorate the facade of the Denis Apartments, on the corner of Bubbling Well Road and Carter Road. They were created by the Russian artist Jacob Lehonos and represented Comfort, Progress and two other unnamed benefits of civilization. The sculptures were smashed to pieces by the Red Guards in 1966, and the only images that I could find are these two newspaper clippings:

The sculpture on the left is Progress, "in modern style." The one on the right is described as "a symbolic statue," and the caption goes on to explain that "in this instance, the artist's skill consists in producing a symmetrical ensemble when the statue is viewed in perspective. A perfectly contoured figure frequently appears grotesque when seen from a distance." (Source: The China Press, April 1930.) Hmmmm...

Image: Virtual Shanghai.

An article on Denis Apartments is coming up! The architecture series in Magazeta is revived and will appear biweekly, with English translations in this blog.

Miami Shores on Avenue Joffre (1930)

There is something Miami Shores about this vision of the western end of Avenue Joffre, which circulated in Shanghai newspapers in January 1930. The author of the project is the renowned firm Palmer & Turner Architects. Compare with this typical Mediterranean Revival home in Florida:

The source of this image lists the following qualities of this architecture: "historic Cuban clay barrel tile, cornice details, lime based paint, arched windows, decorative columns, wood casement windows, balustrated balconies, decorative or structural ornamental brackets, decorative ventilation grids, rough textured stucco walls, low pitched multiple gabled roofs, chimney, and awnings."

The "Miami villas" still grace the western stretch of Middle Huaihai Road, between Xingguo Road and Huashan Road, but their fronts have been built up: