February 3rd, 2019


Aerial photo of the old town in the 1940s

Found this 1940s aerial at an online auction. The top photo shows the northern half of the old town, looking across the northwestern quarter toward the northeastern part. I'd love to have it, but the set of three pictures sold for 23,000 yuan.

Image: Huachen auction.

In the lower right corner (of the top image) we can see the devastation from the wartime artillery raids and conflagrations. That area corresponds to today's Sanpailou Road三牌楼路, Zhangjia Lane 张家弄, Guangqi Road 光启路, Xueyuan Road 学院路, Hongqiao Lane 虹桥弄, etc, all of which were built up again after 1949. The curved path at the bottom is Fuxing Road 复兴东路.


The end of the old town

The redevelopment of a large area in the old town's southeast quarter was approved a few days ago. This area includes Qiaojia Road 乔家路 and everything around it:

The original document is quoted below:



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一、      原则同意乔家路地块旧城区改建项目分东块、西块,分别实施房屋征收。具体范围如下:





Even if we leave the damage to centuries-old urban communities out of the discussion, the most interesting architecture and historic relics of the old town concentrate within the circuit that is now approved for demolition and redevelopment. When I guide walking tours, we spend most of the time in these blocks. From the mid-sixteenth century onward, this was a prestigious neighborhood, and even today many of the gentry clan residences survive here partially or completely, as well as multiple remains of old temples, gardens and creeks.

There are:
- Shuyinlou 书隐楼 (they'll obviously leave it standing and "revamp" it);
- Xu Guangqi's residence 九间楼 and his family ancestral hall 徐氏祠堂;
- the gate of the Medicine Merchants' Guildhall 药局;
- Wang Yiting's estate Catalpa Garden 梓园;
- General Qiao's Ming-era residence 乔一琦旧宅;
- nineteenth-century Yu Residence 宜稼堂;
- Qing-era courtyard homes on Yaoju Lane 药局弄;
- Ming- and Qing- era courtyards on Yujia Lane 俞家弄;
- former Zhenwugong Temple 真武宫;
- former Narcissus Hall 水仙宫;
- fine courtyards and shikumen lanes on East Meijia Street 东梅家街;
- old magnolia trees on Meijia Street 梅家街;
- a pair of 17th-century ginkgo trees from the Penglai Monastery 蓬莱道院;
- several 1930s lane compounds on the north side of Qiaojia Road 乔家路;
- several 1920s lane compounds on the south side of Qiaojia Road 乔家路;
- fine quality lane compounds on the south side of Penglai Road 蓬莱路;
- fine residential architecture along Tiandeng Lane 天灯弄;
- other small sites.

The disappearance of these neighborhoods will truly be the end of the old town.

[See more images from the redevelopment area...]