A river that flows with cul­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Many world-class cities are en­dowed with a first-rate river. Shang­hai has two. Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River are trib­u­taries of the me­trop­o­lis’ ap­peal.

Suzhou Creek in par­tic­u­lar is worth ex­plor­ing.

The “mother of Shang­hai”, as it’s also called, serves as an um­bil­i­cal link to the city’s early life — con­ces­sions, in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and im­proved liv­ing qual­ity.

It snakes 17 kilo­me­ters from the Waibaidu Bridge down­town to west­ern Shang­hai’s outer ring road. The bridge is an icon that ap­pears in many movies set in the city.

Dozens of cou­ples flock to the struc­ture ev­ery day for wedding pho­tos.

The “gar­den bridge”, as Waibaidu is also called, marks the point where Suzhou Creek be­gins and in­ter­sects with the Huangpu.

It flashes with col­ored lights at night.

The 106-me­ter-long bridge — the first large one built in the city — was de­signed by a Bri­tish com­pany and built in 1873.

It no longer serves as a traf­fic artery — nearly 40 other bridges have been erected over the wa­ter­way — but stands as a pedes­trian way for tourists.

It’s a Shang­hai tra­di­tion for a grand­mother to carry a 1-mon­thold grand­child across a bridge. It in­di­cates the bless­ing that the new­born has nav­i­gated all the twists and turns so far and will be safe and happy through­out life.

Suzhou Creek’s banks hosted the tex­tile mills, chem­i­cal plants and fac­to­ries that pro­pelled Shang­hai’s 1920s in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion.

They pro­duced mod­ern­iza­tion — and pol­lu­tion. The wa­ter was de­void of fish and no longer suit­able for taps by the 1930s.

Things started to turn around in the 1990 s.

Fac­to­ries were re­placed by sought-af­ter high rises.

Changn­ing dis­trict hosts a 5-km wa­ter­front that has be­come a pop­u­lar place to walk and sit on lawns. A board­walk flanks 3 km on ei­ther bank.

As 29-year-old res­i­dent Xiao Xu puts it: “Jog­ging on the dif­fer­ent sides of­fers dif­fer­ent feel­ings. The north side is next to the wa­ter, while the south side is next to high rises, which makes it like run­ning through the jun­gle.”

Pre­sum­ably, she means the con­crete kind.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Suzhou Creek, also known as the “mother of Shang­hai”, serves as an um­bil­i­cal link to the city’s early life — con­ces­sions, in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and im­proved liv­ing qual­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.