November 19th, 2020

Shanghai: Sights in the City (1858)

How exciting to meet a colleague who devised English-language tours in the walled city of Shanghai exactly 150 years before I did! In 1858, a reader of the North-China Herald pointed out that the walled Chinese City is virtually unknown to the travelers and foreign residents, so he suggested a walking itinerary inside and outside the city walls, with a brief description of the main sights and their names in Shanghainese dialect.
[Click to see the newspaper article...]
Clicking on the page will open an enlarged version in a new window:



Let's go on this tour! The itinerary is shown below. I'll illustrate the walk with images from the era, as far as possible. My comments to the text are in square brackets [...].


Click the map to see it in high-res. Based on the 1884 Map of Shanghai.

***
To the Editor of the North-China Herald.
Dears Sirs, – Knowing as I do, the fact that to many visitors and even to some residents Shanghai is a sealed city as regards those objects which go to illustrate the national life and habits, it has occurred to me that an outline of such a "cruise on shore" as might be accomplished in a day's walk, may not be without its use to those who are willing to disregard dirty streets and bad odors for the sake of learning something of what the Chinese really are, at least in this part of the kingdom.

Hong of W.R. Adamson & Co., and Bund, looking north, Custom House visible 1857 VH01-027.jpg
Custom House on the English Bund c. 1858. Image: Historical Photographs of China, vh02-208.

Starting from the Bund and walking southward a visitor will first pass the––

1. 天妃宫 T'een Fe Kioong,  
a temple destroyed by fire during the recent siege of the city, but now rebuilt. It is the place where votive offerings are made by sea-faring men, especially the Fokienese, who frequent this port. [This temple, also known as Temple of the Queen of Heaven 天后宫, originally founded around 1270, was in continuous use since 1735 until its destruction in February 1855 during the ousting of the Small Swords from the walled city; it burned down again in August 1860. The location was close to today's Xinkaihe 新开河]. [Image: D.B. Greene, RAS Collections]

[Continue the tour...]
On the same line of street, a little farther south, is the––

2. 大关 Too Kwan,
the Great Custom House for native trade, the income of which equals that received at the New Custom House (新关), the one situated on the Bund and restricted to the foreign trade. [The photo shows the newer location, further south, at the intersection of today's East Fuxing Road 复兴东路 and Waima Road 外马路].

A continuous walk southward takes one through the suburb where the heavy wholesale trade – such as that in sugar, drugs, dye-woods, tobacco and produce generally – is carried on. The tobacco manufacturing establishments – 烟作 Yeen tsok – and the apothecaries' shops – 药店 Yak teen – are worth looking into by those who are curious about such processes. Several of them are passed before one reaches the Guild Hall, or rather Guild Temple, of the Fokienese traders, called the––
3. 泉漳会馆 Zeen Tsang Way-Kway.
[The guildhall was built c. 1761 and destroyed by the Japanese air raids in August 1937]

This passed, we are in the neighborhood of the Great East Gate 大东门 Too Toong Mung, between which and the river are to be found the dealers in the beans, peas, millet, mustard seed, etc, which form so large an item in the imports from Shangtung.

The next point of interest is the––
4. 救生公局 Kew Sung Koong-jiok,
an institution corresponding to our Humane Society for rescuing persons from drowning, etc. [Founded some time between 1796 and 1820, it was close to today's Baidu Road 白渡路.]

If your visitor has a sedan in attendance (which is to be recommended), he had better call it now and tell his coolies to convey him straightway to the––
Dongjiadu Cathedral front view before 1949 MGTP.jpg
5. 董家渡 Toong-ka Doo,
where he will find the Roman Catholic Cathedral, a building which speaks for itself. Close by may be found several tea-manipulating establishments where the processes of picking, sorting, etc, may be seen; they go under the name of 茶叶栈 Zo ye dzan.

Thence he may saunter through the building called the––

6. 南会馆 Nay Way-kway,
which is a guildhall of Shanghai junk owners [aka Sea Merchants' Guildhall 商船会馆, which still stands], and also through the native docks and lumberyards, where he can study the Chinese navitechture to his satisfaction.

A little distance farther on will be found two extensive collections of shed-buildings, well worth a visit, called 油车 Yeur tso, where oil is expressed from the Shangtung bean by the aid of buffalo power and of machinery, which generally excites the interest and surprise of foreign visitors. The bean here used is the staple export from Neur Chong and sustains the large coasting trade expressly reserved for native junks by the recent tariff regulations [today's Youchematou Street 油车码头街, at the waterfront, points at the location of these enterprises].

Da01-31.jpg.jpeg

The sedan may now be called again and the order given to proceed to the––

7. 南教场茶亭 Nay Kau Zang Zo Ting,
where will be found a native Free School of forty-eight boys, who are instructed in literature and good manners by two teachers and are supplied in winter time with nailed shoes and umbrellas [The image shows an unspecified location, but the school in the description was near the municipal parade ground, bordered by today's Nancang Street 南仓街].

Next comes a drug warehouse, or rather manufactory, where ulcer plasters are made which are of some celebrity in these parts, the––
Da01-31.jpg.jpeg
8. 姜家药店 Kiang ka Yak teen.
[Shanghai's earliest pharmacy, also known as 姜衍泽堂, which opened in 1685 at today's Xigouyu Lane 西钩玉弄; the image shows its entrance at a later era]

And then there is a little street––
Da01-31.jpg.jpeg
9. 蔑作街 Mih tsok ka,
[now known as Miezhu Street 蔑竹街] where the bamboo is worked up into a great variety of forms [the image is just for illustration].

The suburbs in this direction offering nothing more of special interest, it will be best to enter the city by the Great East Gate, immediately inside of which may be found the Ancestral Hall of the Wong family, with pleasure grounds attached, in which the spirits of the deceased ancestors are supposed to roam about. This is the––
10. 王家祠堂 Wong ka Sz Dong,
and can generally be inspected by making a civil request for admission to the doorkeeper.

On the short, handsome line of street to which the East Gate introduces us, are silversmith's establishments, the workshops attached to which, called 银楼 Niung Lur, are worth inspecting, not far off is a pawn-brokers of some size, 东街上典當 Toong ka long Teen tong [corresponding to today's Dong Street 东街].

A slight detour to the southward will take one past the Taou tai's residence [Daotai's yamen]––

11. 道台衙门 Tau-tay Nga-mung,
[built in 1731 and eliminated in 1911; the location corresponds to today's Jintan Road 金坛路  and Xundao Street 巡道街]

the public granaries 仓前 Ts'ong zeen, and a kind of hotel-temple called the––

12. 水仙宫 Sz Seen kioong,
[Narcissus Hall, built c. 1037; now partially survives as an assortment of later-built halls at 136 Xundao Street 巡道街136号].

Smaller inns are scattered all over the city and called 客寓 Kak nü.

If an introduction can be obtained, here visit the––

13. 郁家 Yok ka,
said to be the best specimen in the city of a Chinese gentleman's private house [residence of Yu Taifeng 郁泰峰 (1800–1866), preserved at today's 77 Qiaojia Road 乔家路77号].

Now we are near the Hall of Universal Benevolence––

14. 同仁堂 Doong Zung Dong,
[Founded in 1804. The gate is partially preserved at today's 95 Yaoju Lane 药局弄95号]

the Foundling Hospital––

15. 育婴堂 Yok Yung Dong,
[founded in 1710 and partially preserved at today's 41 Xitangjia Lane 西唐家弄41号]

and the Monumental Gateway of Paul Siu [Xu Guangqi (1562–1633)], a Christian mandarin of the Ming Dynasty––

16. 阁老坊 Kau Lau Fong,
[erected in the 1640s by Xu Guangqi's descendants and demolished by the municipal authorities in 1931; the location was at the crossing of today's Guangqi Road 光启路 and East Fuxing Road 复兴东路]

A choice must be now made between two routes. By one of them we shall pass the Examination Hall––

17. 也是园 Yey Sz Yuen
[formerly a private garden, which had by then become part of Ruizhu Academy 蕊珠书院, at today's Yeshiyuan Lane 也是园弄]

the Rendezvous of the Silk and Tea men, the––
18. 丝茶公所 Sz Zo Koong-soo,
where at the present moment the Imperial Commissioners are being entertained [now Banjingyuan Lane 半径园弄],

and the new Confucian Temple––

19. 学宫 Hok koong,
[aka 文庙, now a major cultural sight, at 215 Wenmiao Road 文庙路215号] Image: HPC.

and then out at the West Gate and round to the Ningpo Mausoleum,––

20. 宁波会馆 Niung-po Way kway,
where the coffined dead are kept uninterred in immense numbers – a strange sight! [this is Siming Gongsuo 四明公所, established in 1797, whose gate is preserved at 830 Renmin Road 人民路830号]

The other route leads back towards the center of the city, past the Che Heen's [magistrate's] office––

21. 知县衙门 Tsz Yuen Nga Mung,
[does not survive]

and the city Pleasure Gardens,––

22. 城隍庙 Zung Wong Miau,
[the City God Temple with the Yu Garden open to the public], behind which may be found a specimen of the ordinary bathhouses, 如景园混堂 Zoo kiung Yuen wun dong.


If our visitor has an especial taste for seeing handicrafts, he should enquire for the calendering workshops 踏布场 Tah Poo Zang, the silk loom weavers 织罗底店 Tsuk Loo-te teen, the open woodwork carvers 锯花作 Ka hwo tsok, the candle manufacturers 蜡烛栈 Lai tsok Dzan, the dye-houses 计家弄染坊 Ke ka loong Neen fong, the fireworks makers 九亩地火药房 Keur-'m-de Hoo-yak vong [in Jiumudi, in the northwest of the walled city], the curriers 硝皮作 Siau be tsok, the cotton-ginning work rooms [?]花衣场 Kah hwo-yih Zang, etc, etc. [Image unrelated]

If schools and churches interest the visitor, in addition to the Free School near the parade ground before-mentioned, a considerable number of smaller day schools 学堂 Hok Dong, under the care of native teachers or Christian missionaries will be found in several places throughout the city.

The several church buildings are––

Of the London Missionary Society,
23. 五老峰后礼拜堂 Oo law foong hur Le-pa Dong,


24. 三牌楼福音会堂 San-ba-lur Fok-yung Way-Dong.
[the remains of this chapel are at 63 Sanpailou Road 三牌楼路63弄]

Of the English Church Missionary Society––
25. 石皮弄耶稣堂 Zak-be-loong Ya-soo Dong,
[It was abandoned in 1890 and in 1899 rebuilt by the American Episcopalians as the Grace Church 天恩堂, preserved at today's 78 Songxue Street 松雪街78号]

Close by is a House of Industry for the Blind 瞎子总场 Hak ts' Zung Zang.

Of the American Episcopal Mission––
26. 虹桥基督堂 Hoong Jiau Ke-tok Dong.
[Christ Church, built in 1850 in a Gothic style, at today's Hongqiao Lane 虹桥弄; not surviving.]

Of the American Baptist Mission––

27. 天主堂头圣会堂 Teen Tsoo Dong dur, Sung Way Dong.
[opened in 1850 on what is now Middle Fangbang Road 方浜中路, east of the City Temple 城隍庙; not surviving]
The view from the tower of this last named building will well repay the trouble of ascending it: indeed the bird's-eye view thus obtained of both city and suburbs ought to be made a chief point of by the visitor. [Image from The Story of Yates the Missionary]

Of heathen temples, the best specimens are

28. 丹凤楼 Tan Voong Lur
on the city wall at the eastern side [aka Phoenix Pavilion, built in 1584 and containing various shrines on three floors; torn down together with the city wall in 1912] [Image: Getty]

29. 大境 Too kiung

in a similar position to the west [aka Dajing Pavilion, or a PIece-Goods Temple, now rebuilt in the shape close to the original and used as a museum of the old city], [Image: Getty]; and

30. 广福寺 Kwong Fok Sz
in the city, not very far from the North Gate [This was Shanghai's oldest temple, founded c. 946 on today's Middle Fangbang Road 方浜中路; it has not survived the Cultural Revolution].

Let me ask you and your readers to accept the above as a sort of farewell contribution towards a thorough knowledge of Shanghai within the walls from your City Correspondent.

P.S. I find that I have laid off a good deal more than can be accomplished in one day. It would be useless for anyone to attempt it in that time. A selection however can easily be made, according to the visitor's taste or object.

C.C.