Katya Knyazeva's scrapbook

Shanghai history and architecture

A Russian restaurant near the port
Dragon Chi
As a little follow-up to my earlier post on Russian restaurants of old Shanghai, here is a beautiful 1920s picture of a Russian restaurant on Yangtsepoo Road, near the port:

Source: flickr Fin de Siecle.

I am happiest when it is possible to know the exact location of the photo. In this case the fortuitious street sign for Taiping Road helped. Here is an aerial shot before 1949; the roof line conforms:

This block has not survived. See the photo on the modern map here: https://pastvu.com/p/722760

#75 Shanghai Architecture Series. Moore's Memorial Church (in Russian)

At least these houses now have names and provenance

Time Out Shanghai photo essay: Explore old Laoximen before it's demolished

Instead of feeling proud of my research, I just feel sad.

Exploration Map #1.
Exploration Map #2.

Old and new street names in the French Concession
For those of us who think visually and geographically better than textually, here is a great map of the French Concession, created ten years ago by Juha Loukola and uploaded to flickr. The map is a handy reference to old and new street names:

Click to see it in full size. Credit to Juha Loukola!

#74 Shanghai Architecture Series. Foreign YMCA (in Russian)

Locating the Shaowansheng food store in 'China on Film'
The documentary 'China on Film' is wonderful. I particularly liked the 'zoom-enhance' sequence, where the archivist demonstrates how he used historic images of Nanjing Road to find out where the 1900s footage was taken:

Still from China on Film.

Having identified the white storefront as Shaowansheng 邵万生 food store, the voiceover goes: 'Same location, same building, rebuilt in the 1930s,' and the camera zooms in on 414 East Nanjing Road 南京东路414号.

[But they got it wrong...]
Since its opening in 1852 the Shaowansheng 邵万生 store moved around Nanjing Road two or three times. How do we know where it was in 1901? Most early images show its recognizable white facade surrounded by a completely strange streetscape that gradually disappeared in the 1920s.

One thing is clear immediately: the store is not near the corner of Shanxi Road, where it stands today, because there is an uninterrupted row of buildings to its right:

Fortunately, Nanjing Road was photographed a lot, especially that section of it. Some pictures show the gradual replacement of old Chinese buildings with neobaroque edifices. Thanks to this postcard we know that Shanxi Road is somewhere near. We also learn what the two buildings to the right of the store started to look like after they were rebuilt:

The ostentatious buiding next to Shaowansheng is the jewelry store Laofengxiang 老凤祥:

And what is the building to the right of Laofengxiang?

It appears on the photo below, taken in 1925 from slightly further away. The facade spells Laou Kiu Chang (Laojiuzhang) 老久章 textile store:

We are getting closer to the corner of Shanxi Road. The building to the right of Laojiuzhang, at the right edge of the photo, corresponds to today's No. 414, but the sign on it spells 'EMBROIDERIES.' So by the year 1925 Shaowansheng had not yet moved to this address, and it could not have been there in 1901.

Both Laofengxiang and Laojiuzhang are on the 1939 map:

Map from virtualshanghai.net.

So the old Shaowansheng has to be to the left of the Laofengxiang jewelry store. This is where normal people stop but I can't. Knowing that Laofengxiang also moved around quite a lot, I felt I could not trust its 1939 location. So I looked at the buildings to the left of Shaowansheng. The outlined building looked familiar:

There it is, closer up. The signage is very helpful.

This is the Siming Bank 四明银行, right next to the Women's Bank 女子银行. Both of them appear on the map:

To avoid confusion, I made an (ugly) sketch to 'rebuild' the streetscape, highlighting on the most prominent architectural features of the facades.

Forgive me, Cintia, I am so bad at architectural drawing.

So here is the real location of the Shaowansheng 邵万生 store captured on film in 1901: near the center of the block between Shanxi Road and Fujian Road, at Nos. 442–446, and not at No. 414 where the store is now:

Base map: virtualshanghai.net.

This image shows the Shaowansheng 邵万生 food store at its new location, at No. 414. Bits of acrhitectural features at the left edge of the photo belong to the Laojiuzhang 老久章 store.

To sum it up, the BFI archivists and technicians did a marvelous job matching the old footage with still images of Nanjing Road and identifying the store, but could not precisely locate it, because they are not as crazy as I am due to the lack of China expertise.

Shikumen mansion 逸庐 at Jinan Road
Following the Wechat news about the relocation of a large shikumen mansion at Jinan Road 济南路, I was reminded of our visit to that house in November 2013. We chatted with its resident for a long time and photographed inside the courtyard.

[But there is more (click to read on)...]
The Leisure Abode 逸庐 was not the only fine courtyard on that block, but it was the only one to have a name plaque above the stone gate. Other houses were even more luxuriously decorated and had fantastic interiors.

Where did all this beauty end up, I wonder.

#73 Shanghai architecture series: the Shenbao building (in Russian)

Ming-era stone pillars found in the old town
Wechat keeps bringing bittersweet news. During the widening of South Guangqi Road 光启南路, a pair of stone pillars were exposed. One of them remains enclosed in a residence at No. 216, while the one on the opposite side was revealed from debris of the demolished houses.

Photo: Xinmin.

In the Ming era, here used to be a guard's post and a gate closing off Guangqi Road, which was the main ceremonial avenue leading south from the gate of the county magistrate's yamen. A little intersecting street near the gate's location is still called Qiao Family Gate 乔家栅. There were no less than four various arches and gates across Guangqi Road, but this one, it seems, was the only one that actually served to lock the street.

If you look at the satellite map of the old town, it is easy to notice how straight South Guangqi Road is – the only straight line in the maze-like southeastern quarter of the old town. Evidently, it was not wide enough for two-lane car traffic, which is why the municipality is gnawing into the ancient neighborhood with bulldozers and stumbling onto relics. There will be many more such 'discoveries' in the years to come.

My photo from last year.

The original article enlists the opinion of the expert Xue Liyong 薛理勇 to speculate if this gate could be Gelaofang 阁老坊, the memorial arch in honor of the scholar Xu Guangqi 徐光启, but I am sure this is not the case. The Xu memorial arch was located about 400 meters to the north, at the intersection of Guangqi Road 光启路 and East Fuxing Road 复兴东路. It was demolished in 1931, during the widening of the northern part of Guangqi Road.

I feel like such a failure for sitting on the unpublished second part of my book on the old town, dealing excactly with these parts.

Nanjing road in motion, the year 1900.
Archival footage of Nanjing Road in the British Film Archive – which cannot be viewed outside the UK, unfortunately.



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