Text: | Print|

Past and Present

2013-07-03 08:48 Global Times Web Editor: Wang YuXia
A corner at the Companion Cultural Foundation Photos: Li Yuting/GT

A corner at the Companion Cultural Foundation Photos: Li Yuting/GT

Xinzha Road Station on metro Line 1 is just one stop away from the bustle of People's Square. Though not as well-known as the heart of the city, its location by Suzhou Creek puts it at the center of Shanghai's contemporary art scene, which has flourished in the old factories and warehouses that dot the area.

Running east to west, Xinzha Road was built in 1862 and later evolved into a large cluster of residences, stores and factories. From exit 1 of the station, the arch of Wuzhen Road Bridge spanning Suzhou Creek is visible.

Republican era pictorial

Crossing Wuzhen Road Bridge leads to Guangfu Road in Zhabei district. Turning right and walking for about 200 meters takes you to Shanghai Companion Art House (195 Guangfu Road, 6381-2777). This was the office of the renowned Shanghai pictorial The Young Companion, the first color magazine in China, established in 1926. The publication gained popularity for its insightful articles and terrific photos documenting the politics, culture, art and business of Republican era China.

Though the pictorial ceased publication in 1945, the office is now run as a cultural venue by the Companion Cultural Foundation, with its first floor open to the public for free. The space is furnished in the style of old Shanghai, with large posters of The Young Companion covers adorning the walls.

There is a reading corner, where visitors can sit and browse newly printed copies of past issues of The Young Companion, and in the center of the room historic materials depicting that legendary time period are displayed. Collectors and history buffs can purchase prints of every issue ever published: 174 magazines covering 1926 to 1945 at a price of 9,800 yuan ($1,599).

A few half-open rooms in the back of the first floor are decorated in ancient Chinese style, ideal for hosting traditional Chinese cultural practices, such as playing the guqin, writing calligraphy, flower arranging and tea ceremonies. Cultural salons are held every weekend, with special themed events to coincide with certain traditional Chinese solar terms.

Factory traces

Strolling along Guangfu Road grants views of old lanes and run-down houses where local residents mill about, as well as Xinzha Bridge, which sits on Suzhou Creek parallel to Wuzhen Road Bridge.

The building situated at 423 Guangfu Road stands out for its historic architectural style. The former Foo Sing Flour Mills was built in 1912 by the Rong brothers and is now listed as heritage architecture by the Shanghai municipal government. Inside the red-brick building is the Creek Art Center, which holds regular exhibitions of contemporary works. It's also worth taking a walk behind the building to get a glimpse of local life in the old lanes.

Art and culture

Running along the south bank of Suzhou Creek is the aptly named Nansuzhou Road. For history lovers and backpackers, Shanghai Soho International Youth Hostel (1307 Nansuzhou Road, 5888-8817) is an interesting destination. The building where the hostel is located was once the warehouse of Du Yuesheng (1888-1951), popularly known as "Big-Eared Du," the infamous Shanghai gang leader and businessman who was a major figure in the city during the first half century of the 20th century.

Keep going for a short distance and you will find another fine example of heritage architecture at 1295 Nansuzhou Road. Built in 1902, it served as the warehouse of a textile factory. A few years ago, the building was converted into a haunted house, reportedly China's first, which terrified the city's thrill-seekers for Halloween.

At 1247 Nansuzhou Road sits River South Art Center (6359-8989), a three-storey loft which hosts music and cultural events.

Finally the walking tour along Suzhou Creek returns back to Xinzha Road metro station. For book lovers, the last stop - Xiangya Book Store - located at the entrance of exit 1 is not to be missed. Both English-language and Chinese-language books can be found inside the narrow store crammed with reading matter. All the books are sold at a huge discount with prices from 15 yuan to 25 yuan.

Comments (0)
Most popular in 24h
  Archived Content
Media partners:

Copyright ©1999-2018 Chinanews.com. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.