Eat local: Yuan Yuan Restaurant, Shanghai, China

Yuan Yuan Restaurant in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, is one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, where our Context Travel food tour guide knew the owner and staff

Yuan Yuan Restaurant in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, is one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, where our Context Travel food tour guide knew the owner and staff and ordered what she considered some of the highlight typical dishes of Shanghai

 

Following our walking tour of the Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession [see our previous blog post, “Shop local: Guangyuan Lu [‘wet’] Market, French Concession, Shanghai, China (2019)”, our guide from Context Travel tours walked us through the neighborhood, ending up at one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, where she knew the owner and staff.   With some input from our small group, she ordered what she considered some of the highlight typical dishes of Shanghai.  It was an excellent meal and opened out eyes to the diversity of ingredients and flavors in the local cuisine.

 

Crystal Shrimp (a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Crystal Shrimp (a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Tea-Smoked Duck, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Tea-Smoked Duck, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Red Braised Pork (a real signature dish of the city, alternatively available for locals as red braised eel), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Red Braised Pork (a real signature dish of the city, alternatively available for locals as red braised eel), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Local Dumplings, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Local Dumplings, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Eggplant with Pork, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Eggplant with Pork, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Rice Cakes (noodles) with Greens and Pork, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Rice Cakes (noodles) with Greens and Pork, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Braised Chicken (another local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Braised Chicken (another local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Amerinth greens (generally purple in color, not green – a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Amerinth greens (generally purple in color, not green – a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Shop local: Guangyuan Lu [“wet’] Market, French Concession, Shanghai, China (2019)

The Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” -- 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession is inside this modern building – a newer location for an old neighborhood institution, Shanghai, China

The Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession is inside this modern building – a newer location for an old neighborhood institution, Shanghai, China

 

On one of our last days in Shanghai we organized another small group of friends to do a “food tour” of Shanghai — going behind the scenes with a local expert guide on a Context Travel walking food tour in the French Concession.  As their description notes, “It would be remiss to leave the buzzing city of Shanghai without tasting the city’s unique gastronomic delights.  As a center of trade, commerce, and migration, Shanghainese cuisine has assimilated the cuisines of nearby regions including Ningbo, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Shaoxing.  As a result, it provides an excellent lens to experience and study Chinese food traditions.  During this 3-hour Shanghai Food Tour, we’ll visit a neighborhood Shanghai [wet] market and have lunch in a one of the city’s best and most authentic Shanghainese restaurants, all curated by a veteran food expert.”

 

This blog post covers our walking tour of the Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession.  Our next blog post, “Eat local: Yuan Yuan Restaurant, Shanghai, China” will showcase the local Shanghainese cuisine at our luncheon with our guide.

 

Fresh vegetables and greens for sale at a vendor’s stall, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Fresh vegetables and greens for sale at a vendor’s stall, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Rice wine in containers, known as “China Shaoxing” -- for the city of Shaoxing, known for its locally produced rice wine; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Rice wine in containers, known as “China Shaoxing” — for the city of Shaoxing, known for its locally produced rice wine; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

“Stocked with all the fresh produce and live animals that hungry Shanghai residents could ever cook up, wet markets are an essential alternative to the brand-name supermarkets vying for their slice of market share in the country with the planet’s largest population.  These markets are so named because the floor tends to be wet, thanks to the live fish flopping around and the vendors’ habit of throwing water on the ground to keep the area clean.  With dozens of independent stalls in each market, competition is fierce, resulting in low prices (even cheaper if you bargain a bit), beautiful displays of produce, and the freshest fish and fowl to be had, butchered and cleaned right before your eyes.  You won’t find shrink-wrapped plastic or expiration dates here.

“Shanghai locals and restaurateurs alike still depend on these independent neighborhood markets for the freshest goods, a bit of social interaction, and the opportunity to keep their bargaining skills sharp.  With the unending time, social and economic pressures facing young Chinese professionals, the profile of the average shopper tends to fall squarely in the “well past retired” category here.  Cooking is a pastime enjoyed mostly by those with the luxury of time, or carried out dutifully by ayis, salaried ‘aunties’ who find themselves working in the homes of so many Shanghainese families.” — https://culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/shanghai/2013/shanghai-wet-markets/

 

Several vendors had a big variety of eggs, including quail eggs (middle upper left), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Several vendors had a big variety of eggs, including quail eggs (middle upper left), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Fresh wheat flour noodles in a large variety of shapes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Fresh wheat flour noodles in a large variety of shapes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

The fermented greens reminded us of the markets in South Korea; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

The fermented greens reminded us of the markets in South Korea; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Pork sausages of a variety of styles and duck confit, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Pork sausages of a variety of styles and duck confit, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Dried mushrooms and legumes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Dried mushrooms and legumes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

As we strolled through the market our guide discussed with us some of the fundamental food concepts in China, such as the importance of sharing meals, the emphasis on freshness and vegetables, and the central role of texture in cooking.  She also discussed the central role of pork in the Chinese diet and why China is the only country in the world with a strategic pork reserve

 

Pork is a mainstay protein in Chinese cuisine – it’s so important that China has a strategic pork reserve, comparable to the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Pork is a mainstay protein in Chinese cuisine – it’s so important that China has a strategic pork reserve, comparable to the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Rice comes in many varieties and quality levels (with a range of prices, as noted in the labels), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

Rice comes in many varieties and quality levels (with a range of prices, as noted in the labels), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China

 

Fresh fish, seafood and eels, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Fresh fish, seafood and eels, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

The French Concession, Shanghai, China (2019)

Fuxing Park, laid out by the French in 1909 in the French Concession, was originally a private garden in the Ming Dynasty and is now accessible to all residents and visitors in Shanghai, China

Fuxing Park, laid out by the French in 1909 in the French Concession, was originally a private garden in the Ming Dynasty and is now accessible to all residents and visitors, providing a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of busy Shanghai, China; the plane trees (genus Platanus) are the same as those in the tree-line streets of Aix-en-Provence, France, except these trees all came from a southern province of China

 

In order to gain better insights into the historically designated French Concession (French: Concession française de Changhaï; Chinese:上海法租界) district of Shanghai (that we have visited several times on previous trips), we decided to book a tour through Context Travel Tours and had some friends join us.  Our guide informed us that the former French Concession was once the stomping ground for the radicals, writers, prostitutes, and pimps in Shanghai.  Although officially controlled by the French in the 1920s and 30s, renowned gangster and drug lord Du Yuesheng called the shots for a substantial period.  The green and leafy neighborhood was sometimes dubbed the “Paris of the East”.

 

“For much of the 20th century, the area covered by the former French Concession remained the premier residential and retail district of Shanghai, and was also one of the centres of Catholicism in China.  Despite re-development over the last few decades, the area retains a distinct character and is a popular tourist destination.” – Wikipedia

 

“The French Concession is the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today’s Luwan and Xuhui Districts.  Luwan’s Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is also home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists.  Xuhui is also ever popular for tourists and is home to Shanghai Stadium.  The tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions in the area still retain an air of the “Paris of the East”.” – www.wikitravel.org

 

We were grateful to our young guide for sharing of so much “life behind the scenes” that had been experienced and learned during time living in Shanghai.  Our afternoon tour began in Fuxing Park, a European-style park laid out by the French in 1909, then the largest park in Shanghai.  The park was originally a private garden belonging to the Gu Family during the Ming Dynasty and is now accessible to all residents and visitors, providing a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of busy Shanghai.

 

Some of the magnificent gardens in the public Fuxing Park in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

Some of the magnificent gardens in the public Fuxing Park in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

College Francais, built in the French Renaissance style with Art Nouveau decoration, functioned as the first French Club in the French Concession, Shanghai, China; it is now operated by the Chinese government as a science institute

College Francais, built in the French Renaissance style with Art Nouveau decoration, functioned as the first French Club in the French Concession, Shanghai, China; it is now operated by the Chinese government as a science institute

 

An interior view of College Francais, built in the French Renaissance style with Art Nouveau decoration, in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

An interior view of College Francais, built in the French Renaissance style with Art Nouveau decoration, in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

A private sign that was interesting for both its message and its age (1988), French Concession, Shanghai, China

A private sign that was interesting for both its message and its age (1988), French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

A typical former private “mansion” home, now with retail stores on the street level and apartments above, in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

A typical former private “mansion” home, now with retail stores on the street level and apartments above, in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

This former private “mansion” home was seized, along with virtually all private property in Shanghai, by the Communist government in 1951 and carved up – each room was assigned to a family, French Concession, Shanghai, China

This former private “mansion” home was seized, along with virtually all private property in Shanghai, by the Communist government in 1951 and carved up – each room was assigned to a family, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

The typical rent for a room in the building [pictured above] today is about 30 to 35 Chinese Yuan (Renminbi), equivalent to US$4.25 to US$5.00 per month (for a family).  Note that the rooms have neither a bathroom nor a kitchen.  The residents use commodes for toilets (either in their rooms or in a common space in the building).  The communal “kitchen” area might be outside (in the back), on a terrace, or, occasionally, in a dedicated room in the building.  The typical low-end worker’s monthly salary in Shanghai is about 2,000 Chinese Yuan (Renminbi), equivalent to almost US$300.  Thus, rent for one of the government owned “apartments” (rooms) in Shanghai is a fraction of a low-end worker’s monthly income.  It is also important to note that with a population of 24 million people, we were told that more than half of the population of Shanghai still lives in government owned “apartments” (of varying sizes, but the “room” arrangement, pictured above” is quite prevalent).

 

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, designed by Alexander Yaron Architects, was built in 1932-1934, French Concession, Shanghai, China

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, designed by Alexander Yaron Architects, was built in 1932-1934, French Concession, Shanghai, China; the roots of the French Concession are heavily entwined with Russian heritage, as Shanghai became home to many Russian expatriates following the Bolshevik revolution, with the area around Avenue Joffre known as “Little Moscow”

 

The former detached garden house of Soung Haung Chaug built in the 1920s with a masonry-timber structure; since April 2005 it has been the Han Yuan Mandarin School, French Concession, Shanghai, China

The former detached garden house of Soung Haung Chaug built in the 1920s with a masonry-timber structure; since April 2005 it has been the Han Yuan Mandarin School, French Concession, Shanghai, China; the front terrace café is presently a spot “where local Chinese and foreign friends can communicate and interact”

 

This sign, ubiquitous throughout Shanghai (and China, generally) lists the twelve key principles of the Chinese Communist Party; French Concession, Shanghai, China

This sign, ubiquitous throughout Shanghai (and China, generally) lists the twelve key principles of the Chinese Communist Party; French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

The 12 values of the Chinese Communist Party, written in 24 Chinese characters are the national values of “prosperity”, “democracy”, “civility” and “harmony”; the social values of “freedom”, “equality”, “justice” and the “rule of law”; and the individual values of “patriotism”, “dedication”, “integrity” and “friendship”.

 

An interesting street in the French Concession, Shanghai, China – the formerly private “mansion” homes on the left are now, again, individually privately owned by large companies, whereas the nearly identical buildings on the right are govermnt owned

An interesting street in the French Concession, Shanghai, China – the formerly private “mansion” homes on the left are now, again, individually privately owned by large companies, whereas the nearly identical buildings on the right side are owned by the government and were carved up into individual room “apartments” (as discussed above)

 

This company-owned private home (with a Bentley in the driveway) cost around US$25 million to purchase (before renovations), along with a commitment by the new owner of the house to provide lifetime free rentals elsewhere in Shanghai

This company-owned private home (with a Bentley in the driveway) cost around US$25 million to purchase (before renovations), along with a commitment by the new owner of the house to provide lifetime free rentals elsewhere in Shanghai to the former individual room “apartment” occupants; French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

A very high-quality tea shop in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, where we bought some special Chinese teas to take home

A very high-quality tea shop in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, where we bought some special Chinese teas to take home

 

Typical low-rise early 20th century apartment buildings in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, flanked in the distance (outside the French Concession) by tall modern (21st century) high-rise apartment buildings

Typical low-rise early 20th century apartment buildings in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, flanked in the distance (outside the French Concession) by tall modern (21st century) high-rise apartment buildings

 

The Art Deco Cathay movie theatre in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

The Art Deco Cathay movie theatre in the French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Recently added to street crossings in Shanghai are cameras and vertical video displays (pictured) that, from the bottom, show the pedestrian crossing, four recent jaywalkers singled out, and, at the top, an enlargement of one of the jaywalkers

Recently added to street crossings in Shanghai are cameras and vertical video displays (pictured) that, from the bottom, show the pedestrian crossing, four recent jaywalkers singled out, and, at the top, an enlargement of one of the jaywalkers; French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Exterior of the entrance to the Former French Club, opened in 1926 (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China

The exterior of the entrance to the Former French Club, opened in 1926 (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

The Art Deco second floor lobby of the Former French Club (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China, leading to the Art Deco ballroom

The Art Deco second floor lobby of the Former French Club (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China, leading to the Art Deco ballroom

 

Details of columns (nudes) in the Art Deco second floor lobby of the Former French Club (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China; note that these sculptures were NOT destroyed during the Cultural Revolution

Details of columns (nudes) in the Art Deco second floor lobby of the Former French Club (now the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai), French Concession, Shanghai, China; note that these sculptures were NOT destroyed during the Cultural Revolution — formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — (1966-1976) because an enterprising worker erected plywood “covers” around all the columns to hide the art

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.
 

“The Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” (Jewish Ghetto), Shanghai, China (2019)

The former site of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Shanghai, China; during World War II, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee set up this branch office in the Jewish ghetto

The former site of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Shanghai, China; during World War II, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee set up this branch office in the Jewish ghetto — it became the most important international organization in support of European Jewish refugees

 

On our first visit to Shanghai in 1995, our family visited the Jewish Ghetto of Shanghai with an English-speaking guide who gave us a very good overview of the history of the Jewish “stateless refugees” (predominantly from Germany and its neighboring countries) who arrived in the 1930s.  At that time there were no museums and virtually no plaques on the walls of the ghetto houses to tell the story of that era.  On our present visit, we had a tour with an expert local guide who toured us through the ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) and introduced us to several restored buildings that now serve as a museum and reminders of the history of the era.  From 1933 to 1941, Shanghai became a modern-day “Noah’s Ark”, accepting around 18,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe.  By the time World War II ended in 1945, most of the Jewish refugees survived in Shanghai.  Dr. David Kranzler, a noted Holocaust historian, called it the “Miracle of Shanghai” and commented that within Jewry’s greatest tragedy, i.e. the Holocaust, there shone a few bright lights.  Among the brightest of these is the Shanghai haven

[An interesting aside – our guide was in fourth grade in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution was launched by Chairman Mao.  He then started to learn English in school (a lucky opportunity!), and continued to learn English through high school and then college, going on to work for the Chinese government and, later, the American Consulate as a translator early in his career.  His stories were fascinating.  He had studied the history of the Jewish refugees and was able to share quite a bit of history with us in a few hours.]

 

A tai chi class in Huoshan Park was underway during our walk through the small neighborhood park in Shanghai, China; it was built in 1917 and was frequented by the Jewish refugees living nearby for breaks and parties during World War II

A tai chi class in Huoshan Park was underway during our walk through the small neighborhood park in Shanghai, China; it was built in 1917 and was frequented by the Jewish refugees living nearby for breaks and parties during World War II

 

“Huoshan Park covers an area of 3,700 square meters (40,000 square feet).  In 1917, the park started construction and opened to the public in 1918, named Stark Hadley Park.  In the early 1920s, Zhoushan Road was built in front of the park, so the park was renamed again as Huoshan Park.  The Park was closed during the decade of the ‘Cultural Revolution”.  Brick kilns and fortifications were built and the original facilities were destroyed completely.  In 1978, the Park was rebuilt and opened again.

 

“From the 1930s to the early 1940s, large numbers of Jewish refugees came to Shanghai seeking asylum.  The park became an activity and meeting place for Jewish people.  In 1994, a monument was set up for explaining the location of Jewish residential area by the Hongkou District People’s Government [see photo and text, below].  In June 2015, a landscape renovation was started.  Multi-functional corridors, wisteria frames and transparent pavilions were newly added.  In June 2016 the park was officially (re)opened to the public. – a sign in the park (in English) provided by the local government

 

This monument in Huoshan Park (erected sometime after our 1995 visit) notes that the neighborhood was the “designated area for stateless refugees (Jews)” who arrived in the 1930s in Shanghai, China

This monument in Huoshan Park (erected sometime after our 1995 visit) notes that the neighborhood was the “designated area for stateless refugees (Jews)” who arrived in the 1930s in Shanghai, China

 

The plaque in the monument in the photo, above, reads (as translated by the Chinese government):  THE DESIGNATED AREA FOR STATELESS REFUGEES” From 1937 to 1941, thousands of Jews came to Shanghai fleeing from Nazi persecution.  Japanese occupation authorities regarded them as “stateless refugees” and set up this designated area to restrict their residence(s) and business(es).  The designated area was bordered on the west by Gongping Road, on the east by Tongbei Road, on the south by Huimin Road, and on the north by Zhoujiazui Road” – Hongkou District People’s Government

 

All across China we saw the commemorative plaques, banners and plantings that the People’s Republic of China’s government had erected in advance of the October 1, 2019, celebration of the 70th anniversary of the birth of the modern nation (PRC)

All across China we saw the commemorative plaques, banners and plantings that the People’s Republic of China’s government had erected in advance of the October 1, 2019, celebration of the 70th anniversary of the birth of the modern nation (PRC) with the victory of Chairman Mao and the Communists over the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-Shek; this sign was in Huoshan Park, Shanghai, China

 

 

In Huoshan Park this building served as an administrative center in the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Shanghai, China; the renovations were paid for by donations from the State of Israel and Israeli companies

In Huoshan Park this building served as an administrative center in the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Shanghai, China; the renovations were paid for by donations from the State of Israel and Israeli companies in collaboration with the Honghou District People’s Government in appreciation of the absorption of Jewish refugees by the people of Shanghai before and during World War II

 

Several local ladies from the neighborhood nearby Huoshan Park in what was the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Shanghai, China

Several local ladies from the neighborhood nearby Huoshan Park in what was the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Shanghai, China

 

Today it is easy to see the 1940s boundary of the Jewish Ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) as the modern skyscrapers have been built outside the former ghetto (mostly 2 and 3 story buildings)

Today it is easy to see the 1940s boundary of the Jewish Ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) as the modern skyscrapers have been built outside the former ghetto (mostly 2 and 3 story buildings dating back to the early part of the first half of the 20th century), Shanghai, China

 

LITTLE VIENNA: Around 1940, the European Jews in Shanghai ran a number of businesses in the Tilanqiao neighborhood of the Hongkou District, including cafés, restaurants, pubs and bakeries.  The area around Chusan Road (now Zhoushan Road) was especially noteworthy as German signs for businesses, including outdoor cafés similar to those found in Austria, were very common, forming a prosperous cityscape.  The neighborhood was known as “Little Vienna” – an indication that the Jewish refugees had not only become accustomed to the local culture, but also sought to reinvent their own culture in Shanghai.  When this neighborhood was renovated in 2008, several business signs were preserved from the years of “Little Vienna” and are now on display here.  The café at the Museum is named after one of these historical landmarks: Café Atlantic. – sign at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

 

Typical three-story homes in the 1940s Jewish Ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) along Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China

Typical three-story homes in the 1940s Jewish Ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) along Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China

 

59 Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China, in the Jewish Ghetto, was the former home of W. Michael Blumenthal, former United States Secretary of the Treasury (who lived here as a child refugee with his family from 1939 to 1947)

59 Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China, in the Jewish Ghetto, was the former home of W. Michael Blumenthal, former United States Secretary of the Treasury (who lived here as a child refugee with his family from 1939 to 1947)

 

Built in 1910, the house at 59 Zhoushan Road is deemed veranda-style architecture typical in modern times Shanghai.  During World War II a number of Jewish refugees lived in this house, among whom is Michael Blumenthal, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury of the Carter (Presidency) Government. – sign attached to 59 Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China

 

Michael Blumenthal, the former US Secretary of the Treasury, lived at 50 Chusan Road (now called Zhoushan Road) when his family took refuge in Shanghai during World War II.  He came when he was a teenager, and he spent his adolescent years in Shanghai.  He came to the USA after WW II and served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1979.  Michael Blumenthal has come back to Shanghai many times together with his family, and calls Hongkou his “second homeland”.  When he visited his former residence [pictured above], this 90-year-old man said that he had seen the bright side of humanity in Shanghai. — sign in front of 59 Zhoushan Road, Shanghai, China

 

The former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood (Jewish Ghetto during World War II) was converted to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum by the Shanghai Municipal Government in 2007

The former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood (Jewish Ghetto during World War II) was converted to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum by the Shanghai Municipal Government in 2007

 

The interior of the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood (Jewish Ghetto during World War II), now part of the restored complex of buildings making up the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

The interior of the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood (Jewish Ghetto during World War II), now part of the restored complex of buildings making up the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

 

The Ohel Moshe Synagogue was established in 1907 and moved to the present site in 1927.  The building was funded in 1927 by a group of Russian Jews.  It was an important religious site for Jewish refugees during World War II.  In the year of 2007, the People’s Government of the Honghou District of Shanghai, China, allocated a special fund to renovate the building and had it restored to its historical appearance in 1928.

 

The long wall behind the memorial plaque lists the names of the refugees who settled in the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” in the Tilanqiao area of Shangai (in the Hongkou District)--

The long wall behind the memorial plaque — depicting some of the European Jewish refugees who found sanctuary in Shanghai in the late 1930s and during World War II – lists the names of the refugees who settled in the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” in the Tilanqiao area of Shangai (in the Hongkou District)

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

The Peace Hotel (Sassoon House), Shanghai, China (2019)

In Shanghai, China, at the center of the Bund (at the end of Nanjing Road), today’s remodeled and restored Fairmont Peace Hotel was originally the Cathay Hotel in the Sassoon House, built by Sir Victor Sassoon in 1929

In Shanghai, China, at the center of the Bund (at the end of Nanjing Road), today’s remodeled and restored Art Deco Fairmont Peace Hotel was originally the Cathay Hotel in the Sassoon House, built by Sir Victor Sassoon in 1929

 

“The Cathay Hotel was designed by the architectural firm Palmer and Turner and completed in 1929 and was the pride of its owner, Sir Victor Sassoon.  It has a triangular shaped piece of land at the intersection of Nanking Road and the Bund, with a green pyramidal tower with Tudor paneling, imitating the American Chicago School.  The Cathay Hotel was only one portion of the Sassoon House, which also contained offices and shopping arcades.  Nowadays it known as [the Fairmont] Peace Hotel.” — http://www.virtualshanghai.net

 

The lobby of the Fairmont Peace Hotel contains a central atrium leading to the famed restaurant and world-famous Old Jazz Band venue (the Jazz Bar), Shanghai, China_

The lobby of the Art Deco Fairmont Peace Hotel contains a central atrium leading to the famed restaurant and world-famous Old Jazz Band venue (the Jazz Bar), Shanghai, China – this was one of the preeminent dining and entertainment venues in the 1920s and 1930s when Shanghai was famed as the Paris of the Orient

 

The atrium of the Fairmont Peace Hotel contains several 1929 metal “frescoes” of scenes of Shanghai of the era; this one depicts buildings along the Bund (looking south) with boats approaching the quay

The atrium of the Fairmont Peace Hotel contains several 1929 metal “murals” of scenes of Shanghai of the era; this one depicts buildings along the Bund (looking south) with boats approaching the quay

 

The atrium of the Fairmont Peace Hotel contains several 1929 metal “frescoes” of scenes of Shanghai of the era; this one also depicts buildings along the Bund, but a street scene (looking north) with automobiles from the 1920s

The atrium of the Fairmont Peace Hotel contains several 1929 metal “murals” of scenes of Shanghai of the era; this one also depicts buildings along the Bund, but a street scene (looking north) with automobiles from the 1920s in the foreground and the quay to the far right

 

We had an outstanding dim sum and Chinese cuisine luncheon at the beautifully restored Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

We had an outstanding dim sum and Chinese cuisine luncheon at the beautifully restored Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

 

The eponymous Dragon and Phoenix in the ceiling panels at the at the beautifully restored Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

The eponymous Dragon and Phoenix in the ceiling panels at the at the beautifully restored Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

 

The view of the high-rise buildings in Pudong, across the Huangpu River, from the windows in the Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

The view of the high-rise buildings in Pudong, across the Huangpu River, from the windows in the Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

 

The Fairmont Peace Hotel is the best spot we’ve discovered in Shanghai (on the west side of the Huangpu River) for a view of the curved section of Pudong and its concentration of high-rise buildings; China

The Fairmont Peace Hotel is the best spot we’ve discovered in Shanghai (on the west side of the Huangpu River) for a view of the curved section of Pudong and its concentration of high-rise buildings; China

 

A panorama of the Huangpu River with our ship docked at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal (on the left) and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong, Shanghai, China

A panorama of the Huangpu River with our ship docked at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal (on the left) and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong, Shanghai, China — taken from the Dragon and Phoenix restaurant at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China

 

The living green vertical wall along the quay of the Huangpu River on the Bund side, overlooking the tops of the high-rise buildings in Pudong, Shanghai, China

The living green vertical wall along the quay of the Huangpu River on the Bund side, overlooking the tops of the high-rise buildings in Pudong, Shanghai, China

 

The promenade along the quay on the Bund (looking north) along the Huangpu River, with our docked ship visible on the right; Shanghai, China

The promenade along the quay on the Bund (looking north) along the Huangpu River, with our docked ship visible on the right; Shanghai, China

 

 

“The Man Who Changed the Face of Shanghai” by Taras Grescoe, The New York Times, October 2, 2014

 

“Until recently, the name Sassoon — or, more exactly, Sir Ellice Victor Sassoon, the third baronet of Bombay — had been all but effaced from the streets of Shanghai.  The scion of a Baghdadi Jewish family, educated at Harrow and Cambridge, Sassoon shifted the headquarters of a family empire built on opium and cotton from Bombay to Shanghai, initiating the real estate boom that would make it into the Paris of the Far East.

“The 1929 opening of the Cathay Hotel (its name was changed to the Peace in the mid-50s), heralded as the most luxurious hostelry east of the Suez Canal, proclaimed his commitment to China.  (He even made the 11th-floor penthouse, just below the hotel’s sharply pitched pyramidal roof, his downtown pied-à-terre.)  Within a decade, Sassoon had utterly transformed the skyline of Shanghai, working with architects and developers to build the first true skyscrapers in the Eastern Hemisphere, in the process creating a real estate empire that would regularly see him counted among the world’s half-dozen richest men.  Within two decades, the red flag of the People’s Republic was hoisted over the Cathay, which would for many years serve as a guesthouse for visiting Soviet bloc dignitaries.

“Yet, over the course of the years, Sassoon’s buildings, apparently too solid to demolish, continued to stand, so many mysterious Art Deco and Streamline Moderne megaliths in a cityscape growing ever grimier with coal dust.  As Shanghai once again takes its place as one of Asia’s fastest-growing metropolises, and supertall, 100-plus-story towers define its new skyline, there are signs that the city is beginning to value, and even treasure, its prewar architectural heritage.  Sir Victor would have appreciated the irony: The landmarks of Shanghai’s semi-colonial past, vestiges of a once-reviled foreign occupation, have lately become some of its most coveted addresses.

“The last time I was in Shanghai, in 2007, the Peace Hotel was in a sorry state.  In the Jazz Bar, whose faux Tudor walls seemed to be stained yellow with the nicotine of decades, I watched a sextet of septuagenarian Chinese jazzmen lurching their way through “Begin the Beguine.”  (The musicians, who rehearsed clandestinely through the Cultural Revolution, are still sometimes joined by their oldest member, a 96-year-old drummer.)

“I was given a tour of the property by Peter Hibbard, an author whose books ‘Peace at the Cathay’and ‘The Bund’ document Shanghai’s European architectural history.  He showed me tantalizing glimpses of marble and stained glass, partly hidden by poorly dropped ceilings, and explained that the lavish décor of the eighth-floor restaurant — inspired by the Temple of Heaven in Beijing’s Forbidden City — had to be papered over during the Cultural Revolution to spare it the wrath of the Red Guards.  Hidden away in storerooms, he assured me, were the original Arts and Crafts furniture and Deco glasswork that had been a feature of every guest room.  Mr. Hibbard informed me the hotel was about to close its doors for a complete makeover; he feared the worst.

“After a three-year restoration overseen by the lead architect Tang Yu En (and a makeover supervised by the Singapore-based designer Ian Carr, completed in 2010), much of the cachet of the old Cathay has been restored to the Peace.

“On the ceiling of the Dragon Phoenix Restaurant, gilded chinoiserie bats once again soar; Lalique sconces have been returned to the corridor that leads to the eighth-floor ballroom. In nine themed suites, the décor has been recreated from old photos:  The Indian Room is newly resplendent with filigreed plasterwork and peacock-hued cupolas, while a semicircular moon gate separates the sitting and dining rooms of the Chinese Room.  A spectacular rotunda has once again become the centerpiece of the ground floor, its soaring ceiling of leaded glass undergirded by marble reliefs of stylized greyhounds that remain the hotel’s insignia.

“Some changes would surely have caused Sassoon to arch an eyebrow.  To avoid spooking visitors from the south, elevators now skip directly from the third to the fifth floor. (The number 4 sounds like the Cantonese word for “death.”)  The revolving door on the riverfront Bund, once the privileged entrance for such celebrity visitors as Douglas Fairbanks and Cornelius Vanderbilt, is now chained shut with a rusty padlock.  (It is bad feng shui for a building’s main door to face water.)

“In spite of such adjustments, Mr. Hibbard is delighted to see Sassoon’s flagship property reclaiming pride of place on the Bund.  “Sir Victor changed the face, and the manners, of Shanghai,” he said.  ‘The Cathay exemplified this.  Outside, it’s so simple, clean and streamlined. Inside, it’s fanciful and buoyant.  It gave society a venue to play in. It still gives people from around the globe an opportunity to have a fantastic time in one of the world’s most exciting cities.’

“The building has something else going for it: location.  Sassoon built his headquarters where bustling Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s main commercial street, intersected with the banks, clubs and head offices of foreign firms that lined the Huangpu riverfront.  The hotel, in other words, sits at the exact point where China meets the world — which means that, to this day (and well into most nights), it is buffeted by concentrated streams of humanity.

“I was not surprised that Noël Coward found the serenity to write the first draft of ‘Private Lives’ during a four-day sojourn at the Cathay in 1929, or that Sassoon, a nomadic tycoon who could live anywhere in the world, chose it as the site for his aerie.  The sensation of being swaddled in luxury at the calm center of a bewitching maelstrom is unique.  After building the Cathay, all Sassoon had to do was sit and wait for the world to come to him.” – www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/travel/the-man-who-changed-the-face-of-shanghai-.html

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Walking in Shanghai, China (2019)

The eastern part of Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai, China, and is one of the world's busiest shopping streets

The eastern part of Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai, China, and is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets

 

From People’s Park in downtown Shanghai, we took a leisurely walk several miles (kilometers) back to our ship, berthed on the Huangpu River at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal in the Tilanquao Residential District.  We had a very nice dim sum lunch along the way on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street at a local Chinese restaurant (we were the only non-Chinese customers — as Americans and Australians) in a 3-story “food court” filled with a variety of dining options.

 

“Nanjing Road (南京路 Nánjīnglù) is Shanghai’s main shopping street, famously named one of the World’s Seven Great Roads in the 1930s and now making a rapid comeback after decades of Maoist austerity.  The road stretches from The Bund east towards Hongqiao, with Shanghai’s centerpoint People’s Square (人民广场) in the middle.” – https://Wikitravel.org/en/Shanghai

 

The side streets off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street offer plenty of additional shopping and dining opportunities, Shanghai, China

The side streets off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street offer plenty of additional shopping and dining opportunities, Shanghai, China

 

Some side streets off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street were home to large retail stores, Shanghai, China

Some side streets off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street were home to large retail stores, Shanghai, China

 

This side street off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street was full of small retail shops, food stalls and cafes in two-story buildings dating back 100 years ago, Shanghai, China

This side street off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street was full of small retail shops, food stalls and cafes in two-story buildings dating back 100 years ago, Shanghai, China

 

Quite a contrast between the 100-year old two-story buildings on the north side of Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street and the 21st century skyscraper on the south side, Shanghai, China

Quite a contrast between the 100-year old two-story buildings on the north side of Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street and the 21st century skyscraper on the south side, Shanghai, China

 

This six-foot (two-meter) wide food stall on a side street off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street sold only steamed buns (bao) – cooked upstairs -- and was doing a “land mine” business mid-afternoon, Shanghai, China

This six-foot (two-meter) wide food stall on a side street off Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street sold only steamed buns (bao) – cooked upstairs — and was doing a “land mine” business mid-afternoon, Shanghai, China

 

Varied architectural styles spanning 100 years on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street in Shanghai, China

Varied architectural styles spanning 100 years on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street in Shanghai, China

 

The pedestrian view of the modern skyscrapers in Pudong from the quay at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Shanghai, China

The pedestrian view of the modern skyscrapers in Pudong from the quay at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Shanghai, China

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

People’s Park, Shanghai, China (2019)

People’s Park, Shanghai, China, is one of the biggest public parks in downtown Shanghai and is a great spot for people watching and serves as an oasis in the middle of the eastern section of the city

People’s Park, Shanghai, China, is one of the biggest public parks in downtown Shanghai and is a great spot for people watching and serves as an oasis in the middle of the eastern section of the city. Across Renmin Avenue, site of the Shanghai People’s Government Building, is Shanghai People’s Square with the outstanding Shanghai Museum immediately behind it

 

“Formerly the site of the Shanghai Racecourse, the centrally located People’s Park is one of the biggest public parks in downtown Shanghai and also one of our favourites for people watching, especially of the old folk going through their morning routines – sometimes it’s tai chi, sometimes it’s dancing, sometimes it’s walking backwards and clapping, or clusters of men playing cards or dominoes in the hidden cloisters of the rock gardens.  Every weekend the park also plays home to the The People’s Square marriage market, where parents take out adverts to find matches for their grown-up children.  The market takes place just inside Gate 5 of People’s park every Saturday and Sunday from midday-3pm… The park is also home to Moroccan themed restaurant and bar Barbarossa and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), which is well worth a look when its hosting a show (previous exhibitions have included solo shows from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Chanel’s Little Black Jacket show and exciting multimedia group shows from young Chinese artists).”– http://www.timeoutshanghai.com

 

The historic Shanghai Race Club building on the northwest corner of People’s Park, Shanghai, China, with a modern skyscraper looming across the street; the building was repurposed as an art museum and now is the Shanghai History Museum

The historic Shanghai Race Club building on the northwest corner of People’s Park, Shanghai, China, with a modern skyscraper looming across the street; the building was repurposed as an art museum and now is the Shanghai History Museum

 

Baihua Pond, with an edge of Barbarossa Restaurant visible on the right side. in People’s Park, Shanghai, China

Baihua Pond, with an edge of Barbarossa Restaurant visible on the right side. in People’s Park, Shanghai, China

 

Looking out at the surrounding skyscrapers from People’s Park, Shanghai, China

Looking out at the surrounding skyscrapers from People’s Park, Shanghai, China

 

Baihua Pond, People’s Park, Shanghai, China #2

Baihua Pond, People’s Park, Shanghai, China #2

 

Baihua Pond, People’s Park, Shanghai, China #3

Baihua Pond, People’s Park, Shanghai, China #3

 

Looking out at the surrounding skyscrapers from People’s Park, Shanghai, China #2

Looking out at the surrounding skyscrapers from People’s Park, Shanghai, China #2; here, the historic Shanghai Race Club building is dwarfed by the modern skyscraper

 

The modern performing arts center, Shanghai Grand Theatre, is set off against modern skyscrapers on the streets beyond the huge People’s Park, Shanghai, China

The modern performing arts center, Shanghai Grand Theatre, is set off against modern skyscrapers on the streets beyond the huge People’s Park, Shanghai, China

 

Star Camp, “Five Light Years” video and installation in the exhibition “Do You Copy” in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai, China

Star Camp, “Five Light Years” video and installation in the exhibition “Do You Copy” in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai, China; note that each acrylic “helmet” was large enough for visitors to insert their heads and hear a custom soundtrack (different in each “helmet”)

 

“Do You Copy” exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai: “When Bauldelaire sang his praises for his nineteenth-century world, he always added the literary query, ‘Do you come from Heaven of rise from the Abyss?’  MOCA Shanghai is pleased to present Do You Copy as part of its ongoing CROSS+ initiative.  Encompassing the media of video, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, fashion, and artificial intelligence, Do You Copy features works by around twenty artists and creative collectives, over half of which are commissioned specifically for this exhibition or presented in public for the first time.  Humans have never ceased to imagine the future.  Through imagination and exploration, we hope and strive for convenience, beauty, and all kinds of new experiences.  We also direct our imagination towards the cosmos.  From the time Galileo looked through his telescope, our cosmological imagination has always been a fusion of myth, fantasy, and science, and has always manifested itself in various forms. The Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s pushed scientific explorations of the universe to new heights, with the 1969 moon landing by U.S. astronauts as one of the period’s signal achievements.  Human imagination about the future became ficher and more firmly grounded in reality.” — Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai

 

Team 231, “Do You Copy” custom painted satellite dishes in the exhibition “Do You Copy” in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai, China; note Elliot and E.T. on the bicycle in the sky on the center satellite dish

Team 231, “Do You Copy” custom painted satellite dishes in the exhibition “Do You Copy” in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), People’s Park, Shanghai, China; note Elliot and E.T. on the bicycle in the sky on the center satellite dish

 

The Shanghai Grand Theatre is one of the largest and best-equipped automatic stages in the world; since the theatre opened on August 27, 1998, it has staged over 6,000 performances; People’s Park, Shanghai, China

The Shanghai Grand Theatre is one of the largest and best-equipped automatic stages in the world; since the theatre opened on August 27, 1998, it has staged over 6,000 performances of operas, musicals, ballets, symphonies, chamber music concerts, spoken dramas and various Chinese operas; People’s Park, Shanghai, China

 

People watching in People’s Park, Shanghai, China; here, a pickup card game with locals watching the game – one of many tables in the eastern side of the park with games underway and discussion groups nearby, too

People watching in People’s Park, Shanghai, China; here, a pickup card game with locals watching the game – one of many tables in the eastern side of the park with games underway and discussion groups nearby, too

 

Looking east from the edge of People’s Park, Shanghai, China, down the shopping streets to see the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong (across the Huangpu River)

Looking east from the edge of People’s Park, Shanghai, China, down the shopping streets to see the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong (across the Huangpu River)

 

An abstract image made in People’s Park, Shanghai, China – “Links”

An abstract image made in People’s Park, Shanghai, China – “Links”

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.