Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva
avezink

The Old West Gate (Laoximen) when it was still a gate

The Old West Gate 老西门, also known as Phoenix Gate 仪凤门, was a complicated construction:


A large rampart protruding west had a door for pedestrians that opened to the south.


Here is a view from a bit further away. The 'stickers' around the gate vary, but the pattern of broken bricks around the arch confirms this is the same gate, only seen from a higher angle.

Source: H. B. Morse "In the Days of the Taipings" (1927).

How do you get to shoot at this angle?


[Continue reading...]
Evidently, by standing on the walkway above the water gate and looking north:


I am not 100% sure the image below shows the West Gate, but the scale seems about right. The flat walkway with a spiky fence above the water passage are similar to the second photo:


The water gate allowed Zhaojia Creek 肇嘉浜 to escape the walled city. The creek served as a primary connection with the villages west of Shanghai (when it was not tragically silted like in the photo above):


There is a cornucopia of images on the internet of various Shanghai gates, but many of them are mislabeled. This one, for example, claims to show the West Gate, but it is unclear how it fits with the images above. The top of the wall looks much newer, which would be characteristic of the eastern side, always better maintained, and not the neglected western side. This could be Shanghai wall, just a different gate:


I like this image very much, but Shanghai city wall had one arrow loop per merlon (sic!), not two:


This is the same place from a different angle. The image comes from a reputable book published by the Municipal Archive, yet I suspect this is not Shanghai:


Here is another attractive image, but I think the arch of the gate and the sparce placement of the holes, one for every three merlons, are different from the Shanghai city wall. Also, the scale looks more massive: a part of the rampart is visible on the right. The photographer, William Saunders, travelled China extensively, and could have taken it anywhere:

View from the wall 11415d2b59ef1438f8fb6dbebf08cdb0.jpg
Source: 150 Years of Real Estate in Shanghai.

Not a trace was left of the wall, the gates or the creeks left after their removal in 1912:


In the next installment we will look at the images of the east-facing gates.




Tags: 1900s, 1910s, city wall, gates, investigation, old town, shanghai, 老城厢, 老西门
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