Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Before the Puxi/Pudong dichotomy there was the Suzhou Creek divide

When residents of old Shanghai talked about the river dividing their city, they meant Suzhou (Soochow) Creek. The other bank of the Huangpu (Whangpoo) was, obviously, not Shanghai.

Garden Bridge across Suzhou Creek in 1938. From 亚东印画辑.


'Shanghai is called the 'Paris of the Far East,' and perhaps it is because of the bridges crossing Soochow Creek, which resemble on a smaller scale the famous spans across the Seine River in the French Capital. Like the Seine, which divides Paris into a 'Left Bank' and a 'Right Bank,' Soochow Creek plays havoc with the geographical layout of this city, giving us different sections in whicih live people with neighborhood idiosyncrasies and community pride. How many people in the Wayside are close friends with people in Frenchtown? Very few, and you may blame this coldness on Soochow Creek.

The bridges across the creek try to act as go-betweens, and sometimes they succeed, but on the whole Hongkew is cold to Bubbling Well. Garden Bridge is more cosmopolitan than any 'pont' across the Seine. Motor cars of every known manufacturer have crossed Garden Bridge at some time or another. Rickshas find Garden Bridge a necessary connection in taking their fares to and fro across the creek. Underneath Garden Bridge sampans and junks proceed side by side with modern tugboats and tenders. And the people walking across Garden Bridge represent every nation in the world. The Public Gardens and Playground on the Bund side of the bridge, and Astor House and ex-Russian, German and Japanese Consulate-Generals on the Broadway side, combined with the beauty of the animated life on the Whangpoo, all conspire to give Garden Bridge a romantic setting.'

(The China Press, Nov 1931)

Garden Bridge (probably in the 1940s). From 亚东印画辑.

Accompanied by (a different set of) photographs of Garden Bridge, this piece was published before the Embankment Building and Broadway Mansions rose on the north bank and attempted to subvert the class divide imposed by the creek. But I suspect the 1932 hostilities in the northern district reconfirmed that 'there is no life beyond the river.'

Tags: 1930s, article, garden bridge, shanghai, suzhou creek

Posts from This Journal “1930s” Tag

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