The Bund in Shanghai

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

© Bimal Mehta/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Bimal Mehta/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Bund or Waitan is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centers on a section of Zhongshan Road (East No.1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai. Building heights are restricted in the area. The Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles, generally Eclecticist, but with some buildings displaying predominantly Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Baroque Revival, Neo-Classical or Beaux-Arts styles, and a number in Art Deco style (Shanghai has one of the richest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world).

The word bund (bunding) means an embankment or an embanked quay. The word comes from the Persian word band, through Hindustani, meaning an embankment, levee or dam (a cognate of English terms “bind”, “bond” and “band”, and the German word “Bund”). Mumbai’s Apollo Bunder and city names like Bandar Abbas and Banda Aceh share the same etymology. There are numerous sites in India, China, and Japan that are called “bunds” (e.g., the Yokohama Bund). However, “The Bund”, without qualification to location, usually refers to this stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai. The Chinese name for the Bund is unrelated in meaning: it means literally the “outer bank“, referring to the Huangpu River, because this part of the riverfront was located farther downstream than the “inner bank” area adjacent to the old walled city of Shanghai.

The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprang up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial center of east Asia. Directly to the south, and just northeast of the old walled city, the former French Bund (the quai de France, part of the Shanghai French Concession) was of comparable size to the Bund but functioned more as a working harbourside.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank built in 1923 and The Customs House built in 1927 © Peter K Burian/cc-by-4.0 © Peter K Burian/cc-by-4.0 © flickr.com - tab2_dawa/cc-by-2.0 © Daniel Case/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Miguel A. Monjas/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Bimal Mehta/cc-by-sa-4.0 River Cruise on Huangpu River © Peter K Burian/cc-by-sa-4.0
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The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank built in 1923 and The Customs House built in 1927 © Peter K Burian/cc-by-4.0
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the thawing of economic policy in the People’s Republic of China, buildings on the Bund were gradually returned to their former uses. Government institutions were moved out in favour of financial institutions, while hotels resumed trading as such. Also during this period, a series of floods caused by typhoons motivated the municipal government to construct a tall levee along the riverfront, with the result that the embankment now stands some 10 metres higher than street level. The Bunds revitalization began in 1986 with a new promenade by the Dutch Architect Paulus Snoeren and has dramatically changed the streetscape of the Bund. In the 1990s, Zhongshan Road (named after Sun Yat-sen), the road on which the Bund is centred, was widened to ten lanes. As a result, most of the parkland which had existed along the road disappeared. Also in this period, the ferry wharves connecting the Bund and Pudong, which had served the area’s original purpose, were removed. A number of pleasure cruises still operate from some nearby wharves. In the 1990s, the Shanghai government attempted to promote an extended concept of the Bund to boost tourism, and land value in nearby areas, as well as to reconcile the promotion of “colonial relics” with the Socialist ideology. In its expanded form, the term “Bund” (as “New Bund” or “Northern Bund”) was used to refer to areas south of the Yan’an Road, and a stretch of riverfront north of the Suzhou River (Zhabei). Such use of the term, however, remains rare outside of tourism literature.

From 2008, a major reconfiguration of traffic flow along the Bund was carried out. The first stage of the plan involved the southern end of the Bund, and saw the demolition of a section of the Yan’an Road elevated expressway, including removal of the large elevated expressway exit structure that formerly dominated the confluence of Yan’an Road and the Bund. A second phase involved the year-long restoration of the century-old Waibaidu Bridge at the northern end of the Bund. In a third stage, the former 10-lane Bund roadway was reconstructed in two levels, with six lanes carried in a new tunnel. The vacated road space was used to widen the landscaped promenade along the waterfront. The new concrete bridge that was built in 1991 to relieve traffic on Waibaidu Bridge was rendered obsolete by the new double-levelled roadway, and demolished. The Bund was reopened to the public on Sunday 28 March 2010 after restoration for the 2010 Expo. The bund is one of the most prominent features when viewed from the Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong and its observation deck on the 100th floor.

The Bund stretches one mile (1.6 km) along the bank of the Huangpu River. Traditionally, the Bund begins at Yan’an Road (formerly Edward VII Avenue) in the south and ends at Waibaidu Bridge (formerly Garden Bridge) in the north, which crosses Suzhou Creek. The Bund centres on a stretch of the Zhongshan Road, named after Sun Yat-sen. Zhongshan Road is a largely circular road which formed the traditional conceptual boundary of Shanghai city “proper”. To the west of this stretch of the road stands some 52 buildings of various Western classical and modern styles which is the main feature of the Bund (Architecture and buildings). To the east of the road was formerly a stretch of parkland culminating at Huangpu Park. (This park is the site of the infamous sign reported to have proclaimed “no dogs or Chinese“, although this exact wording never existed. Further information, including an image of the sign, can be found at the article on Huangpu Park.) This area is now much reduced due to the expansion of Zhongshan Road. Further east is a tall levee, constructed in the 1990s to ward off flood waters. The construction of this high wall has dramatically changed the appearance of the Bund. Near the Nanjing Road intersection stands what is currently the only bronze statue along the Bund. It is a statue of Chen Yi, the first Communist mayor of Shanghai. At the northern end of The Bund, along the riverfront, is Huangpu Park, in which is situated the Monument to the People’s Heroes – a tall, abstract concrete tower which is a memorial for those who died during the revolutionary struggle of Shanghai dating back to the First Opium War.

Read more on Wikivoyage The Bund and Wikipedia The Bund (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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