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TitleThe Shanghai Bund: A History through Visual Sources
AuthorChristian Henriot - Matthew Woodbury (assistant)
DateJune 2007

A revised version of this paper was published in the Journal of Modern Chinese History, Vol. 4, no. 1 (2010), pp. 1-27

(please quote only the published version - pdf at bottom of paper)



Shanghai, sixth city of the World!

Shanghai, the Paris of the East!

Shanghai, the New York of the West!

Shanghai, the most cosmopolitan city in the world, the fishing village on a mudflat which almost literally overnight became a great metropolis.”1


Fifth AVENUE, the Strand, Unter den Linden, the Rue de la Paix, and The Bund, – five great thoroughfares of the world, each with an elusive individuality which unites with the others to form an imaginary barrier to that mystic hinterland […] On one side flows the Huangpu upon whose waters sturdy grey battleships and swift destroyers, flying the flags of many nations, swing lazily at anchor. They convey a poignant touch of homeland and personal safety. On the other side rise buildings which might have been transplanted from along the Thames or the banks of the Seine. From the sedate and ultra­conservative British Consulate and Law Courts, set deep within green, close clipped lawns, past white marble hotels and office buildings, the Bund swings in a wide semicircle to include the twin towers of the Daily News and the golden dome of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.”2


While Shanghai evokes mixed images of glamour, exoticism, Sino-western hybridity, the Bund has become its metonymic name par excellence. The Bund ranks first in any introduction to the city in contemporary guides as THE place to go to discover the wonders of Shanghai and its now sanitized and non controversial past. Current accounts usually point to the bizarre architectural heritage that the municipal government lately, but definitely has chosen to turn into a tourist attraction for domestic and foreign consumption alike. Although the Bund fell into complete obscurity – literally – after 1949, it returned to life with brightly illuminated façades in the late 1980s and, more recently, with expensive and chic coffee-terraces on top of its ‘old’ buildings.

The present essay aims to tell a different story and to unveil a much more complex and multi-layered history. It relies on a large body of materials, especially visual sources, to document the transformation of an undistinguished space – a riverfront – into a central place of political, social and architectural contest. Our exploration starts from the earliest visual records of the place by Western or Chinese residents and travelers and move into the late 1940s. While brief references will be made to the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period, this essay focuses on the late Qing and Republican period. In terms of geographical coverage, our focus will be on the « conventional » Bund, namely the section of the riverfront that extended southward from Soochow Creek (Suzhouhe) to the border with the French Concession.4 For photographs, however, we had to identify and glean them from a variety of sources, mostly books published before 1949.

Paintings may be considered as a questionable source for the historian, at least when taken as an “actual” source about reality in the past. Our approach, however, has been to test the limits of these – on the surface – imaginary renderings of the Bund. Of course, there was no reason to question the intent of the painters, most of them anonymous artists, to give a fair view of the riverfront. Yet, as for drawings and paintings by military painters, there is a significant margin for imagination, beautification, and other involuntary or voluntary modifications. Arguably, the stakes in landscape are much less salient than when it comes to come up with a visual report on a battle and other heroic moments. There is less risk of a major deformation. The artists, however, could have simplified the view, or skipped an ugly building or ”improved” it with a more decent appearance. While we had access only to the reproductions published in Arts of Asia, the quality was high enough, especially after digitizing, to allow for close-up examination of individual buildings.

Photographs, contrary to paintings, provide a reliable view of reality. In our case, we were dealing with panoramic views of the Bund that left no room for “framing” the picture. What is on the photograph was there. The issue was to find as many images as possible that covered the entire Bund through its pre-1949 history. In the same way as the riverfront had attracted the eye of painters, photographers also endeavored to provide panoramic views of the Bund. They were initially limited in their attempt by the technology of the time that did not allow wide-angle shots. Creativity and skills, however, made up for this deficiency and the Bund was photographed section by section. Eventually, the photographer reconstituted a panoramic view in the darkroom.6

In using these visual materials, we had to address several issues. The first one was collecting a representative sample of pictures to enable us to see the transformation of the Bund over time, but also to have the possibility of comparative views. We tried to build a series that would cover as narrow time intervals as possible. The table below shows that our temporal coverage is quite dense, even if large gaps subside. Yet all the major transformations took place during periods that preceded our views by just a few years. While we may have missed a few buildings, we believe that our net came out with almost all the major structures that were erected along the Bund. A second issue was the dating of the paintings and the photographs. For the former, we relied on the dates provided Eric Politzer in his Arts of Asia paper, although we made a careful study of their content to assess their credibility.8


Time frame of the Bund views




ca 1849-1850


ca 1854


ca 1857


ca 1862


ca 1867-1868


ca 1879

1873 & 1876-1878


1893 & 1894












The third source we mobilized for this study is maps. They were useful in several ways. First, because maps sometimes display specific buildings, we were able to ascertain the existence of buildings at a certain point in time, even if the accuracy of commercial maps is sometimes questionable. Second, maps provided the exact location of the buildings represented in our images. The general views of the Bund we used – both paintings and photographs – hardly showed any details about the space between the buildings, even when there was an empty yard. The streets are either not represented or hidden from view both in paintings and photographs. Perspective also introduced a deformation in assessing which building was where, or simply to make sure a building was indeed on the Bund (and not in the background). To overcome this problem, we reconstituted the cadastral lots on maps and traced their transformation over time.10 Another problem in the written records is that buildings are usually referred to by the name of their occupant rather than by the structure itself. Conversely, some companies remained on the same spot, but rebuilt their premises two to three times. Finally, some companies moved their offices to different locations on the Bund. In other words, one can be led to believe there is a new building where there is only a change of owner or tenant. To avoid seeing a new building where there was only a new tenant, we had to trace the occupancy of the buildings. The second case – reconstruction of premises was of course easier to solve through the visual record, while the “intra-Bund” moves were indeed limited.

By going back and forth between the maps, the images and the textual records on individual buildings, we were able to build a small database that identifies almost every building on the Bund and provides a timeline of its transformation. We then matched the transformation of the buildings over time with the visual sources. There remain a few gaps for minor buildings that we were not able to identify. Finally, although this was not exactly within the scope of our project, we also tracked down the fate of these buildings up to the 1980s and supplied a link to views of the Bund in present-day Shanghai.12 Some authors argue this was part of a general process of appropriating words from various colonized countries as British imperialism made its progress to the east and to ‘mark’ newly conquered spaces with a symbolic meaning.14 On later maps, as on the 1864-1866 cadastral map,16 or the 1890 ‘Cadastral plan of the (so-called) English settlement’18 Ten years later, however, the riverfront is clearly labeled the « Bund ».20 Before Westerners were allowed to settle in Shanghai on a small strip of land north of the walled city, the riverbank had been in use for many centuries. Of course, only the section that followed the riverfront along the city wall was actually used as a mooring and transshipment area. The reason for the distinction of an « outside » bank is one of geography in relation with the walled city. The upper stream of any river was called li (internal, inside); the lower stream was called “wai”.22 While the southern section hosted warehouses, wharves, and mooring areas, the northern section had very little relevance as it had no specific function besides a « rope walk » as we shall see below. The « active » part of the riverfront was named « shiliupu » after the administrative system that divided the walled city and its suburbs into various districts (pu).24

Before the opening of the harbor to foreign trade, the riverbank had no special equipment or infrastructure for junks or sampans. Although there was an active domestic and international trade going through Shanghai, ships simply used the riverbank as it was, except around the Eastern gate (Dong men) where a sort of embankment had been built. Depending on the time of the day, low or high ebb, the river left open a stripe of sand (tan). The name in Chinese took its origin from there. The only specific feature was a pathway traced by boat pullers along the riverbank. It was called xiandao (纖道), or “Rope path (or walk)” and constituted the only way along the river. When Westerners came to Shanghai, the area along the river north of the Walled city was just that rope path.26 Article 3 of the Land Regulations set the location and width of the main streets within the settlement. One of the four main arteries was designated as “Old rope walk” (舊纖道) with its width defined by Chinese Customs at 2.5 Chinese chi (7.5 meters).28 Obviously technological progress would make the use of ropes to pull boats quickly irrelevant, but the rule remained in force. As a result, the riverfront remained free from construction and eventually transformed into a major 1,500-meter long thoroughfare.30 Little was done in terms of actual planning before 1854, but as early as 1846 the first mud roads were traced through the flat land: Barrier Road, Park lane, Rope Walk Road, etc., and the Bund32


For about two decades, the Bund was left in its original state, even if private initiative started to transform it with the addition of jetties. Over time the path along the river was widened and covered with a mix of ashes and refuse. In the 1849-1850 painting one can see that the riverbank remains pretty much in its “natural” state, even if jetties can be seen protruding from the bank. In 1861, a pavement was created along the Bund as part of a general plan to improve the conditions of roads.34 Consolidation was achieved by plating wooden posts all along the riverfront as the 1862 painting or a photograph of the Customs House show36 The work of filling the area to create the garden started in 1866 and was completed in August 1868.38 Later, the enhancement of the Bund also benefited from the new technologies. Public lighting came on the heel of the establishment of the first gas company in 1865. The Bund was among the first streets to benefit from the new facility that same year when the previous oil lamps were taken down. Electricity followed not much longer later, in 1882 and again the Bund, along with Nanking Road, was first graced with the new electrical lamps. Having been built almost on barren land, the appearance of the early streets remained quite elementary. In 1865, the SMC started to plant trees along the major arteries, starting with the Bund.40 Little progress was made, however, due to the lack of human presence in the French Concession. The French quarter still looked much like a Chinese suburb.42 Yet, while more jetties were being constructed, the riverfront remained in a pitiful state. In 1867, the French consul, Brenier de Montmorand, described it in 1864 as “a badly drained and hardly leveled ground, often cut by large cracks after heavy rain. It narrowed between the low tide mark, a large strip of sand from which the summer sun caused unhealthy exhalations, and a few non-aligned and unassuming houses. In day time, it looked deserted and dreary; at night it was hardly lighted by a few badly kept gas lamps.”44 The Messageries Impériales company built its own wharf by 1863, but serious talks about improving the riverfront did not start until the following year.46 Eventually, that section was completed in 1867 with the cost borne mostly by a special tax on the lots along the newly build 30-meter wide Bund with several floating jetties.48


The Chinese section of the Bund was the responsibility of the local authorities, but little work was done until the late 19th century. From the various records we have, it seems the anchorage was left much to its original layout, with boats mooring in front of the city walls and loading and unloading of the larger junks performed by small crafts. Due to its central role as a transshipment harbor between North and South China, and one of the major outlets for the Jiangnan area, a whole district had developed outside of the walled city since at least Ming times, as one painting shows. By the mid-18th century, there were 27 small streets that ran through the area.50 On an average year, there were about 1,200-1,300 large ships (1,000-3,000 piculs of freight/80-240 tons) and 2,500-2,600 smaller crafts (less than 1,000 piculs/80 tons) that came through. Altogether this represented a total freight of about 280,000 tons.52


As part of the modernization efforts of late Qing reformers, an arsenal and shipyard, the Jiangnan Arsenal (江南製造局) was established south of the walled city. To facilitate traffic, a first effort was made to improve the road along the Huangpu.54 This improvement came with the establishment of the first proto-municipal organs in 1895. As with the “Committee on roads and jetties” in the British Settlement, the new organ, the South City Roadworks Board (Nanshi malu gongchengju 南市馬路工程局) was concerned by the construction and maintenance of roads. The history of this proto-municipal body has been well studied.56 After its renovation, it came under strict supervision with new regulations about taxes, hygiene, traffic, shop signs, etc.58


Western visions of the Bund


The history of Shanghai has been told many times as a “success story” entirely due to Western presence. Without the least hesitation, a 1934 guide of Shanghai boldly stated that “less than a century ago, Shanghai was little more than an anchorage for junks, with a few villages scattered along the low, muddy banks of the river.”60 Of course, by the 1930s, the Bund had developed into a complex and sophisticated area where work easily overlapped with leisure. “The handsome boulevard is flanked by a park space which extends to the river-edge with its unobstrusive landing stages, where tenders bring passengers from great ocean liners.”62 Nevertheless, if Shanghai came to be represented in a way that magnified its aspect and symbolized Chinese modernity, the way in which Westerners and Chinese perceived and described the city, especially the Bund, differs widely. Whereas the Bund figures prominently in all Western renditions of Shanghai, Chinese writers were far less sensitive to its assumed grandeur and glamour. The Western bias, however, was a late development. The first travelers to Shanghai were impressed by the Chinese Bund – obviously the only developed place before Westerners settled in Shanghai – and failed to harbor the prejudices of those who followed their tracks some years later.


The first visitors to Shanghai, Lindsay and Gutzlaff, reached the city in 1832. While they spent most of their time trying to obtain the right to trade in Shanghai, they did not fail to note the brisk trade that was taking place in the harbor. Lindsay reported quite favorably on the local facilities: “Commodious wharfs and large warehouses occupy the banks of the river, which is deep enough to allow junks to come and unload alongside of them; in the middle it has from six to eight fathoms, and is nearly half a mile in breadth”.64 These fairly positive visions of the city and its original Bund, along the walled city, would slowly give way to derogatory comments or simply complete omission with the rise of the English Bund.


When one reads through the travel accounts by early travelers to Shanghai, however, it becomes obvious that the Bund was not yet on their mental map. While a few words of praise are usually said about the British/International Settlement, it is about the buildings, the streets, and the modern appearance of the place: “Shanghai […] is laid like a city at home. It extends along the harbor for the distance of three miles and has a breadth of one mile”. We learn that the streets are macadamized, drained with brick sewers and illuminated by “an abundance of public lamps”. Then the early-1860s visitor turns his eyes to the houses, although we do not know if it is a general comment or a description of the houses on the Bund: “The residences of the merchants are large and elegantly finished, and admirably constructed for comfort. The rooms are high and airy, with windows opening to the surface of the floor upon a wide piazza”.66 The author gives credit to the original towing-path and its preservation and successive widening for giving Shanghai a “noble quay along the entire length of its river-front”. A newly arrived German banker expressed the same view: “The beautiful city lay before us. With its lovely quay and high regal palaces, the city made a magnificent impression. This was, however, actually only the English settlement”.67 The duplication of similar embankments in other Western settlements is said “to have made the Bund a prominent feature of European progress throughout China” (this also applied to Japan as "Bunds" were erected in cities like Yokohama). In 1867, however, the riverfront was still lined with only wooden pillars due to “the high cost of granite in this alluvial region”. At low ebb, a wide mud-bank of about 30 meters extended from the timber facing the roadway. The tidal movement explains why long sloppy jetties, as can be seen on the 19th-century paintings, were built to secure an approach at all stages of the tide.69


Close to the turn of the century, the riverfront seems to have taken shape both materially, but above all in people’s mind. The SMC seems to have decided to preserve the Bund into a major harbor area. In fact, while jetties and iron pontoons were constructed, actual wharves never developed along the bank. No ships or large vessels were allowed at the Bund. They could only moor at a distance and rely on cargo boats for loading and unloading.71 This commentary somehow echoes that by Wang Tao arriving in Shanghai in 1848. But the contemporary British traveler continues his description: “The Bund is wide and spacious, and kept in splendid order by the members of the Municipal Council […] On one side is a broad pathway lined with trees that throw a pleasant shade upon the ground and keep off fiery rays of the sun when he feels his strengths in the hot months…. On the other side are the business houses, which are also residences, and which have been built […] with such artistic beauty and disregard of expense as would give the natives [the Chinese] the idea that the owners are all men of fortune before they began to trade”.73 It existed by itself and stood as the most concrete evidence of Western modernity and achievement in Shanghai. With the characteristic enthusiasm of the time, the same author states that “there is a profound consciousness in many of them [Englishmen] that England’s mission is to elevate the world. This idea exalts commerce, and drives out the meaner motives in connection with it, by surrounding it with beautiful houses, and exquisite gardens, and lines of charming trees.”75


This line of discourse was usually continued and magnified in the following decades. In the first Western guide of Shanghai in 1904, the Bund comes first on the list of “Routes with chief objects of interest”. It is described as “one of the most interesting, famous, and handsome thoroughfares in the world”, with the Shanghai Municipal Council as the valiant designer and protector of public interest that “fought against all attempts of the shipping interest to construct wharves for shipping” and made it “the great lung and promenade of Shanghai”.77 The Bund is also a place that extols the apparent cosmopolitan nature of Shanghai. There is movement, there are people from all over the world, they all go along the same street.


As waves of travelers and residents moved into Shanghai, the Bund became the main focal point, the place that gave Shanghai an identity, while the original city – the city once surrounded by a wall and canals – fell into oblivion. That part was unconsciously erased from history. Myth overpowered history. The Bund had come out of nothing: “The splendid Bund, bounded on one side by sightly bank and club, steamboat and insurance building, and on the other by the Whangpoo River, is the city’ pride and glory. It is hard to realize that this wide, white road, humming with life and swept by costly automobiles, was once nothing but a well trodden tow-path bordering a marsh.”79 The tone is almost lyrical. The British Bund was no longer a place for trade and shipping, except for “a few launches and cargo boats” that seem to be there by tolerance. With stronger words than in the first edition of his guide, Darwent attributed this success to “the men of a past generation who fought and won the battle for this freedom of the Bund foreshore from all-devouring commerce.”81 By the beginning of the decade, the technology was available to erect high and heavy structures on Shanghai’s soft and water-filled soil. The 1921 edition of the guide predicted that “it is possible that in a few years time the entire Bund frontage will be filled with six-story buildings”.83


Neither the French nor the Chinese sections of the Bund were ever able to receive but a very slight, and often derogatory, comment in the writings of British travelers. The French section partly redeemed itself through its installations. In 1899, the Quai du Whampoo is praised for its “fine wharves at which the big Yangtzse steamers load and discharge their cargoes and […] beyond which stretch, far as the eye can reach, the crowded tiers of the Chinese shipping”.85 There were indeed differences between the various sections of the Bund, but as one can see from the visual record, a wide range of activities took place along the riverfront. The presentation of the ‘English’ Bund as a place for rest and leisurely walks fails to reflect the actual diversity of the place and its actual role as a bustling workplace.87 There are two problems with this description of Shanghai in 1848. The first one is the date of writing which, while unclear, was about three decades after Wang actually took his trip to Shanghai. While he may have kept a diary, his 1891 publication, first serialized in a newspaper, is the only evidence we have.89 There was less than a dozen buildings scattered along the riverbank, from the British consulate to the Russell & Co. compound. None of them could be confused with potential skyscrapers. Actually, the building of the Chinese Imperial Customs even appears as the tallest structure on the riverfront. The only major difference was certainly style, but quite opposite to the elegant Chinese Customs, Western buildings were sturdy and square, though their colonnades and balconies gave them an airy aspect. The unusual façades may have been an element of surprise, especially the columns which certainly gave the impression of “reaching to the clouds”. Wang Tao also noticed the flags that hung in front of many buildings, either the company flag or the flag of the country the company represented.91


The testimony of Wang Tao has remained an unchallenged view of early-treaty port Shanghai in Western and Chinese literature.93 Quite interestingly, it is not unlike the mythical and romanticized view of the later Bund we have inherited from the 1920s-1930s. What this parallel between the record by Wang Tao and visual sources suggests, apart from the issue of a distorted memory, is that the confrontation of textual records, from which historians elaborated their interpretation both of the appearance of mid-nineteenth century Shanghai and the reaction of a young Chinese literati to this scene, calls for a second and more cautious reading of these textual records. While the paintings by themselves would be a questionable source, their systematic study through time and confrontation with early photographic records actually provides a solid basis for a “visual reconstruction” of the early Bund and an alternative tool through which to reassess the textual record.


The first image of the Bund Wang Tao recalls actually  does not seem to have made a lasting impression on him. At least, it failed to attract him for a visit or casual stroll. In the diary he kept at various times between 1858 and 1860, Wang Tao usually mentions the various places he went to with his friends or by himself. The Bund is mentioned only once, after he had taken a trip to Hongkou, across Soochow Creek.95 In fact, one has to observe that in Chinese textual sources, the “Bund” failed to become the icon that figures so prominently in Western writing about the city.


A close examination of a Chinese city guides published through the Republican period confirms the lack of interest for the Bund. This may be due to their pragmatic approach to the city that the guides usually describe very systematically under every aspect. These guides are less conceived to assist for a tour of the city, like the Darwent or All about Shanghai guides with their “tours” of the various sections of the city, than to introduce the reader to the various resources Shanghai offered. The city is defined geographically, but it has no center to start from. It is divided into various themes (government, industry, leisure, etc.) rather than districts or areas. Even the photographic record in these guides fails to offer a glimpse of the Bund. It appears almost furtively in one guide through a picture of the Public Garden or of the W.W. I Memorial. There is no way to say whether this was a conscious choice or simply the result of their editorial structure, but obviously the Bund was not an element of pride in Chinese guides.97


Although the waitan (Bund) was absent from city guides, it eventually came to be associated to Shanghai as a synonym for the city’s name. The waitan epitomized Shanghai, not necessarily physically, but rather for its lifestyle, attractions and dangers. A 1942 guide, Da shanghai, devotes two short sections to “tan”. One section “Huangpu tan” presents the Bund as the “point of origin” of the International Settlement, but immediately proceeds to describe it as the “Wall Street” of the city, with a high concentration of banks from all over the world. No other aspect of the Bund is mentioned, safe for the impressive architecture of these financial establishments. The other sections of the riverfront are glossed over. In another section the author explains to the traveler the meaning of “Shanghai tan” as the metaphor for the city as a whole, a place of pleasure for the rich, a fine example of a modern city of the 20th century, but also of traps and disillusions.99 Quite clearly, the visual record left a very different imprint about the Bund on people’s mind than written sources. There is a striking difference, however, between the Western and Chinese visions in the twentieth century. While the former wrote about it as an ode to their accomplishments in Shanghai, the latter used it to convey a sense of urban modernity.



Architectural Development and Change of Function (1849-1949)


The status of Shanghai, as one of the principal entrepots between Europe and China, was mirrored by the architectural development of its waterfront. From its initial period as a meager outpost of mercantile enterprise the Bund quickly became the main stage for showcasing the city’s growing stature as a nexus of trade and finance. By tracing the growth of its physical form we gain some insight as to how Shanghai saw itself and wanted to be seen by the outside world.


The Bund in the International Settlement went through three successive waves of renewal. Of course, the erection of new buildings did not take place at the same time during these periods of transformation. Yet on most locations buildings were torn down and resurrected two to three times. In this section we shall examine the architectural renewal that took place on the bund over a century. This study includes three visual narratives that attempt to take the reader along the Bund at three different periods.


From the 1850s to the early 1870s, the Bund was lined with one- or two-story buildings [“A stroll along the Bund in the nineteenth century” (Narrative ID42)]. While they may have looked impressive to the newcomer, as Wang Tao recalled it, the buildings distinguished themselves more by the architecture than by the actual height. Chinese temples or guild halls in the walled city were far more impressive. The first generation of buildings was made up of constructions that often combined both offices and living quarters. Some companies were able to acquire a large track of the riverfront where, like and Dent, Beal & Co. or Russell & Co., they established a large compound made up of several constructions. Later, these compounds were parceled out and gave way to new individual structures.


The second wave of construction was spread over a few decades starting from the 1880s to around W.W.I [“The Shanghai Bund at the Turn of the Century” (Narrative ID44)]. There was a double transformation. On the one hand many original lots were subdivided and opened up space for entirely new buildings. On the other hand, many existing edifices underwent their first transformation from their original neo-classic style to an equally pompous though more massive appearance. The third and last wave of construction – the one that gave the Shanghai Bund its present allure – took place over a single decade between 1920 and 1929, even if a few more additions were made in the 1930s [“The Billion Dollar Skyline: Shanghai\'s Bund in 1937” (Narrative ID36)]. The following table lists all the buildings that sprang from ground during these two fateful decades. This spate of construction is a direct reflection of the formidable growth and urge for modernization that engulfed the city before the Sino-Japanese war.


The Third Wave of Construction on the Bund (1920-1937)101


A Trading Port: The City’s Early Days


The site for the first European settlement at Shanghai lay on marshy agricultural land crossed by numerous canals. The defensibility of these canals, complimented by British gunboats on the Huangpu, were important considerations for Sir Henry Pottinger, the chief British delegate at the Treaty of Nanjing, in selecting a site for the new settlement. The area’s suitability as a trading site, capitalizing on Shanghai’s role as a center of commerce, was also taken into consideration in the delineation of a rectangular parcel of land stretching from Soochow Creek south to the Yangjingbang, a distance of roughly two-thirds of a mile along the banks of the Huangpu.103 When these rights lapsed in the 1850s, maintenance of the Bund was taken up by the Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC) who preserved the waterfront as open space while building jetties to meet the demands of steam navigation. In 1862 the SMC began the first extension of the roadway and in the process extended the land area beyond the high-water mark to double the original thirty feet.105 Due to the low-lying topography, high water table, and unstable soils, the area that was to become the Bund posed numerous difficulties when it came to laying out basic infrastructure that would haunt Shanghai for decades to come. Roads suffered from slips and the sinking away of banks. Before construction could begin on any building the lot’s ground level had to be raised considerably to assist drainage.107


In the nineteenth century, the hong served both a residential and commercial purpose. The building’s back rooms or upper floors were reserved for accommodation, while the ground floor or a covered veranda provided office space. The number of people in each hong could range from two to three partners, five to ten European clerks, and up to fifty Chinese staff.109


From a structural perspective commercial compounds, as well as most other buildings along the Bund in the late nineteenth century, adopted what was known as a “compradoric” style of architecture. By no means based on sanctified principles of design, this description drew its name from the world of trade and the intermediary figure of the comprador. A comprador was a local resident, or someone fluent in the regional language, hired to facilitate trade and translate between European factors and local merchants. Shanghai’s first European-style buildings were built with local labor from European designs and directed by a Chinese foreman, thus giving rise to the name. Assembled by local Chinese builders according to plans or specifications either imported or drawn up on the scene by the Western firms, the buildings utilized local materials and building techniques. These structures often had verandahs, tile roofs and were generally one or two stories in height.111 While a more technical assessment of the buildings’ architecture might be British Colonial, the term compradoric does recognize the vital role played by local labor in actualizing the Bund’s first buildings.


Within the overall label of British Colonial, these early structures adopted a variety of decorative idioms among which Greek Revival and Italianate elements held pride of place. As trade developed, various remodeling efforts “strengthened [the buildings] into massive proportions and modified … by the addition of the indispensable veranda.”113

While Charles Dyce, a thirty-year resident of Shanghai, lamented in his memoirs that “the community was almost entirely commercial … [all] were there to supply in one form or another the wants of trade” not every building on the Bund was given over to the financing of, or trading in, tea, silk, and opium.115 The Shanghai Club’s first building, located on the southern end of the Bund on land purchased from the Shanghai Recreation Fund, is a good example of Shanghai’s early architecture (1864). The building’s symmetry, pediment, and columns all provide a link with Classical styles while the arcade, porches and decorative simplicity are indicative of its colonial situation. This did not mean, however, that it was sparsely furnished. In his 1904 guide to the city, Charles Darwent wrote the Shanghai Club had “all the appointments of a first-class club – two large dining rooms and private ones, two billiard rooms, card-rooms, library of 16,364 books, an oyster bar, reading-room, kitchen on the top storey … There are twelve residential rooms.”117 Complementing this growth were Shanghai’s own nascent industrial facilities that could now supply some of the materials that earlier had to be imported. Even some of the firms that had their beginnings in mercantile activities began to take advantage of the property boom by speculating in land and property, sometimes with great financial success.

The transformations of the Shanghai skyline caused by these developments are readily visible in the photographic record. Maybon’s 1873 photograph of the Bund reveals a well-developed settlement with almost a dozen ships anchored in the river but with still the appearance of a quiet harbor with few major structures on the riverfront. The French Bund, located south of the International Settlement, presents a few large buildings, while even further distant the low white hong of the Chinese merchants are visible along the city wall (See map).

In a 1908 view the scene is completely different. Steam has replaced sail, the buildings are taller, and factories crowd along Soochow Creek and the stretches of the Huangpu north of the Garden Bridge. Likewise, a change in architecture is apparent as a larger variety of buildings jostle for space on the Bund. Limited to six-stories in height, the Bund’s large buildings stood on wooden pilings driven into the silt and there was always the risk of unequal settling during construction.119

This generation of buildings populating the turn-of-the-century Bund fell into several categories: remainders of the compradoric/British Colonial style, Renaissance Revival, and a variety of other Revival styles. The remaining Colonial buildings were the legacy of the nineteenth century’s successive renovation and remodeling of earlier structures. A good example of this is the old Pustau & Co. building that by 1907 was occupied by the Yokohama Specie Bank, a transformation indicative of the overall move from trade to finance. The structure, built in 1865, is clearly two-storey in a 1876 panorama of the northern bund. It is difficult to tell if the louvered shutters of the second floor fronted a porch or a series of rooms, but by 1907 the growing pressure on real estate necessitated the occupation of every available inch. In order to solve this dilemma, the earlier two-storey structure, with its arched ground floor, simply received a third floor continuing the fenestration and design of the second level (See the Yokohama Specie Bank building). The Colonial style with its verandahs and gardens was no longer appropriate for Shanghai’s larger and larger companies who increasingly turned to new technologies and styles to build their “public face” on the Bund.

Renaissance revival was one of the most popular styles for turn-of-the-century construction along the Bund. Some examples along include the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, the Banque Belge pour l'Etranger, and the Great Northern Telegraph Company. Neo-Renaissance architecture drew from a wide variety of influences, but its origins in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italian and later French buildings provide a clear palette of basic forms. These motifs included rusticated masonry, especially on the ground floor, quoins anchoring the building’s corners, symmetrical facades, arched windows, and pilasters. These elements all contributed to the recreation of earlier European structural forms. Some buildings also minimized the windows of the uppermost floor in order to recall the mezzanine floor of original Renaissance buildings. More formal in their appearance, Renaissance revival was widely used by banks. Given the prevalence of banks and other financial institutions on the Bund by the first decade of the twentieth century, it is not surprising to see the adoption of neo-Renaissance design in the second generation of Shanghai’s buildings.


Finally, the Bund was also home to a few buildings that stood out as individual examples of less-popular Revival architecture or as unique unto themselves. From 1892, the new Customs House lorded over the Bund with its 110-foot bell tower. The Tudor Revival influence on Shanghai’s second Customs House is visible in its fenestration and layout. Built out of red brick with white Ningbo stone facings with a red French tile roof, the guidebook, “All About Shanghai” referred to the Customs House as “one of the finest structures in Shanghai, its lofty clock tower a striking feature of the Bund skyline.”121 Launches from the Custom Shed’s pier also shuttled passengers the twelve miles to ocean liners on the Yangtze.123 While being careful to reserve pride of place for his own countrymen, Darwent commented in his 1904 guide to the city that “this club must be accorded the next place to the Shanghai Club in importance, as the headquarters of the influential German community in Shanghai.”125 At this point in Shanghai’s history, there was no attempt to introduce a hybridized, if still deeply imperial, form of architecture, like the Indo-Saracenic style that later found expression in Lutyen’s designs for New Delhi. Of course, the International Settlement was not a unitary entity but rather a complex mix of dozens of nations with competing economic and national interests, but the lack of any “Shanghainese” architecture, at least at this period, is certainly notable.


An eclectic mix of buildings and styles of architecture, uniformly looking to Europe for architectural inspiration, now vied for prominence along the western side of the Huangpu. Empty spaces were being quickly filled in and any lateral extension would have to mean the annexation of a neighboring lot or two. Darwent, in his guide to the city, found Shanghai’s Bund quite pleasing, he wrote “the plastered buildings are in the Classic style, many of them are architecturally very fine. They look much more suitable to a sub-tropical climate than the dull red-brick erections that are unfortunately becoming the rule.”127 The city’s factories, mostly located north of the Bund in the American Settlement, engaged in cotton spinning, silk filatures, feather cleaning, match making, meat packing, paper making, and flour milling.129


The Billion Dollar Skyline: The Apex of the Bund


If we take the amount of building on the Bund as a barometer of economic success, as Shanghai entered the 1920s business was booming. By the middle of the 1930s Shanghai’s Bund had reached the apex of its development as part of the International Settlement. Often called “The Billion Dollar Skyline” the Bund was a proud representative of a city growing  into a major regional industrial, financial, and mercantile powerhouse. Beginning in the 1910s residents of Pudong, living across the river from Shanghai proper, would have witnessed the steady heightening of the Bund. While the second wave of growth in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had filled out the Bund’s empty spaces to make a continuous built-up streetscape, the final period of architectural development that in turn replaced the Neo-Renaissance buildings was of an order of magnitude larger than its predecessor. Technology, like the safety elevator, steel frames, and reinforced concrete, combined with increasing demand for office space on Shanghai’s premier business street to create the grand new buildings that still grace the city’s riverfront (See Map).131 The close connection between Edwardian Baroque and commercial ventures has also been termed “big business classicism” as its tenants were usually drawn from the great international companies of the day.133


A second, non-commercial, example is the second building of the Shanghai Club. The Shanghai Club, perhaps the most exclusive club in the city, was also the oldest social establishment on the Bund and a hub of (principally British) activities. The last edifice to house the Club, designed by BH Tarrand, opened in 1911. Like its other Edwardian Baroque counterparts on the Bund, the Shanghai Club adopted many neoclassical elements. Six ionic columns mark the façade, the building is split into three horizontal divisions by strong bands that visually recall a column, and numerous neo-classical decorations like pedimented windows and carved floral swags grace the exterior. The two turrets atop the building’s front corners, however, add a rather fanciful element and appear almost Indo-Saracenic in style. Inside the club furnishings matched the elaborate exterior. A Grand Hall measuring ninety by thirty-nine feet was on the ground floor accompanied by a bar, billiards rooms, a news room, and a grand dining hall. Forty guest bedrooms occupied the second and third stories. While the new club buildings increased the space available to the club, there were mixed reviews form members who felt the new building, while certainly grander, was not as comfortable.135


The Bank of China building, the last major construction project on the Bund before the Communist takeover, perhaps stands as the best representative of a fusion of styles and motifs between European and Chinese principles of design. While there were no complete structures on the Bund that adopted Chinese styles in their exterior, the Bank of China building perhaps comes the closest to using indigenous architectural features. The green-glazed tile roof and decorative motifs on the structure’s façade are certainly influenced by local traditions. Although built by a European company, Palmer and Turner, one of the leading architects on the project, Lu Qianshou, was Chinese. Chronologically the last building to go up on the Bund, the Bank of China is The Bank of China stands as one of the only spaces on the Bund exhibiting an external combination of Chinese and European design in a modern building.


Shanghai’s final wave of building, with few exceptions, remained tied to the architectural inheritance of Europe. The city’s development must be weighed against the architectural continuity Shanghai shared with London as a site of imperial development. While not so strong an expression of European imperialism as found almost contemporaneously in the form of Lutyen’s Delhi, the architectural projection of cultural, social, and economic power on the Shanghai Bund was nevertheless significant. Classicism, in the form of Edwardian Baroque and Renaissance Revival, was regarded as both authoritative as well as, through the fusion of classical form with modern conveniences, modern. These principles provided visual demonstrations of the connection between Shanghai’s urban space and corollary institutions in London.137



The Bund in the post-revolutionary period


The glamorous Bund – a glamour that overshadowed a more complex reality as seen before – started to shatter after the takeover by the Communist armies in May 1949.


The Bund fell into oblivion in revolutionary Shanghai. Even if Chinese travelers coming to the city would certainly make the walk to the Bund and have their picture taken, such opportunities became rare with the enforcement of a rigid system of control on the movement of population. Apart from cadres and some technicians (which Shanghai had plenty and actually “exported” to other provinces), few people were allowed to travel. Trade no longer brought the flow of merchants that had made Shanghai famous. The workforce came to be recruited almost exclusively locally, with very few exceptions, after the mid-1950s. Foreign visitors were limited to technicians from the socialist bloc and only very occasional delegations from Western countries set foot in China. Tourism, both domestic and international just dried up.


The city was required to turn itself form a place where “consumption” dominated – and corrupted its people – to a “productive” socialist urban entity. The Bund ceased to be a marker of Chinese urban modernity. On the opposite, it came to be seen as a legacy of Western colonialism. The buildings were simply taken over by the new authorities. Quite symbolically, the new municipal government and the Party Committee elected their quarters in the building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Their political condemnation of imperialism notwithstanding, there was no destruction by the new authorities as little capital was made available for infrastructures under the new regime. The little funding available went to the renovation of slum quarters and building of workers’ villages. Many of the features that make a place a city disappeared from Shanghai. One can find a reflection of that in the virtual disappearance of city guides compared to the several yearly publications to be found before 1949. We were able to trace only two such guides, one for 1957 and the other for 1980 when Shanghai started to regain some clout on the national scene.139 The Bund, even under its Chinese name, simply does not exist. Nowhere throughout the text is there any reference to the riverfront or to any buildings thereon (not even in their official capacity as the seat of local administration, including the municipal government). The term waitan (Bund) creeps in almost inadvertently in the very last pages of the guide where the schematic map of the major commercial arteries is provided: Nanjing donglu does start from waitan.141


Little was done to maintain or enhance the buildings along the Bund or even to the Bund itself until the early 1990s. After the takeover of the city, the municipal government mostly reorganized the wharves and jetties, removing some of them to the south, tearing down scattered constructions to make way for green space.143 The dam that runs along the Huangpu was elevated from 5.8 to 6.9 meters. For a while, the municipal government fiddled with the idea of transforming the riverfront quite radically. There was a project of building an elevated highway over the original Bund. It would have connected with the massive bridge built next to the Garden Bridge and at the feet of the former British consulate. Fortunately, the project was abandoned, even if the Bund was enlarged and turned into a ten-lane highway (all trees were cut down in the process). A parking accommodating 200-300 vehicles was installed inside the newly built dam. The planned renovation of the Bund was completed in September 1992. Other additions were rather cosmetic, like the erection of a statue to commemorate the heroes of the revolution in Shanghai in the middle of the Bund garden (which again lost a large part of its green tracks to concrete) and one in honor of the first mayor of Shanghai, Chen Yi, in front of Nanjing lu.


The municipal Bureau of Urban Planning started to work on a scheme to preserve the buildings on the Bund by 1984. Basically, it defined the stretch to be protected, from the Suzhou River (Soochow Creek) to Yan’an donglu (ex. Edward VII Ave), and from the riverfront to Henan lu. Two years later, it regulated the conditions for new constructions, limiting their height, and on the protection of green areas along the Bund. Seventeen buildings were also listed as landmarks to be protected. It took another five years for a general scheme to be adopted for the same area, slightly extended to the northern bank of the Suzhou river. Altogether, a total of 40 buildings now came under the protective scheme of the Bureau of Urban Planning.145


The new scheme included a detailed classification of all the buildings in the area defined in 1984. All the buildings along the Bund were retained either as “to be protected” (baohu jianzhu 保護建築) or “to be safeguarded” (baoliu jianzhu 保留建築). In fact, these categories crossed historical lines as both historical (namely pre-1949) and more buildings could be found in both categories. They could be rehabilitated, but their original appearance had to be preserved. Behind the first fronting blocks, most buildings fell under the category of multi-story or high-story buildings (whatever that meant) and could either be torn down and rebuilt or remodeled to fit present-day requirements for business (See map).147 Yet, what the plan defined as the “northern part” of the Southern Bund was actually the southern section of the former French Bund. The plans of the municipality seem to have left out the stretch of riverfront between Yan’an donglu (ex. Edward VII Ave) and Xinkaihe lu (ex. Place du Chateau d’eau) that formed the French Bund (Quai de France). The apparent rationale behind these choices may be one of history. On the one hand, the “British Bund” formed a remarkable row of historical buildings that link Shanghai to its colonial past. On the other hand, the selected section of the French Bund is associated to Shiliupu (十六鋪), the historical riverfront of the former walled city. Both sections have a relationship with a past that had to be balanced.




In the 1990s and 2000s, as in the 1930s, the focus remained firmly centered on the “British Bund”. While its buildings are a legacy from Shanghai’s colonial past – something that was definitely erased during the first three decades of the regime – they are now being viewed in a different perspective by the city’s leaders. The city has invested in a somptuous illumination sheme to highlight the buildings on the Bund and emphasize Shanghai’s glamour. The buildings have been voided of their historical content or substance. The colonial past has been pushed back into the fold of history and only the thin surface of its heritage, reinterpreted for both domestic and international consumption, is being promoted. The Bund has become a “heritage” in a quasi UNESCO definition, a set of historical monuments worth preserving for their own sake, but not for what they represent historically. Worth preserving for what they convey in the current search of Shanghai for a new identity, or a renewed identity as the city reconnects with the world. That process is not unique to Shanghai. China has been in the grip of a “nostalgia” for the “old” – actually a real industry. But beyond the commercial aspects, this phenomenon reflects the need of the population and its leaders to reevaluate and reinvent the past in the context of the post-Deng reforms.


In Shanghai, this reevaluation was nurtured by a reconstruction of the collective memory of the colonial past.149 Any search on the Internet generates hundreds of links and thousands of photographs. Many times, one encounters serious approximations about the history of the Bund (one guide even states the Bund has been in existence for hundreds of years), superficial references to its glamorous past (most often by Westerners), etc. Yet, it is clear that the Bund/外滩 has become fully part of Shanghai’s memory and claim for glamour on the worldwide stage.

1 All about Shanghai. A standard guide book. Historical and contemporary facts and statistics, Shanghai, The University Press, 1934 [rep. Ch\'eng Wen Publishing Company, 1973], p. 1

2 Kerby, Philip, Beyond the Bund, New York, Payson & Clarke Ltd., 1927, p. 11

3 By convention, throughout this text, we shall use the original names for places in English for the pre-1949 period. We refer to these places in post-1950 Shanghai by their Chinese names in pinyin transliteration. Whenever necessary, we add the current Chinese name in brackets.

4 Politzer, Eric, "The Changing Face of the Shanghai Bund, circa 1849-1879", Arts of Asia, 35, 2, 2005, pp. 64-81.

5 In one case – the 1898-1900 photograph – we did the reconstitution ourselves from three individual shots.

6 Sources of the photographs: Maybon, Ch.-B.; Fredet, Jean, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai [Bund in 1873 & 1876-1878] Paris, Plon, 1929; Politzer, “The changing face of the Bund” [Bund in 1876]; Wright, Arnold, Twentieth century impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other treaty ports of China: their history, people, commerce, industries, and resources [Bund in 1907-1908], Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing Company, 1908; Shimazu, Chōjirō 島津長次郎, Shanhai annai [Bund in 1893 & ca.1913], 上海案内 Shanghai, Kinpūsha, 1918; Shanhai Kyoryūmindan sanjūgoshūnen kinenshi 上海居留民団三十五周年記念志 [Bund in 1894 & 1937-1938], Shanghai, Shanhai Kyoryūmindan, 1942; Kobori, Rintarō 小堀倫太郎, Natsukashi no Shanhai: shashinshū かしの上海 : 写真集 [Bund in 1916-1918], Tokyo, Kokusho Kankōkai1984; Virtual Shanghai, “General view of the Bund and Huangpu River from Pudong”[Bund in 1898-1901].

7 Eric Politzer’s work is based on the use of visual (paintings), cartographic (the 1925 version of the 1855 map of the British Settlement and a cadastral map of 1864-1866) and textual (especially newspapers and Hong lists) records. He produced a very careful and well documented study of the Bund buildings in the 1849-1879 period. His approach was very similar to ours, but in our case, apart from extending the period of investigation into the twentieth century, the use of GIS-based maps allowed us to reconstitute the cadastral lots and location of buildings through time. For the 1849-1879 period, we found only one major inconsistency in Politzer’s work (the transformation of the Dent & Co. compound and that of the Smith, Kennedy & Co. building. Politzer, "The Changing Face of the Shanghai Bund”, p. 80

8 There were three photographs that came with estimated periods or no indication at all: one from Wright, Twentieth century impressions [no indication, book published in 1908]; Shimazu, Shanhai annai [“present view” of the Bund, book published in 1918]; Natsukashi no Shanhai [no date given]. The ‘internal critique’ of these documents led to the following dating: respectively 1907-09; 1910-12; 1914. For a discussion of the dating method, see individual photographs in the Virtual Shanghai image database.

9 The major maps we used [see “Source maps” on the Virtual Shanghai platform] are: “Ground plan of the Foreign Settlement at Shanghai - North of the Yang Kang Pang Canal”, from a survey by Mr. F.B.Youel R.N., 1855; “Plan of the English Settlement at Shanghae”, Shanghai, Shanghai Municipal Council, 1864-1866; “Street plan of the English, French and American settlement”, London, published for the North China Herald and North China Daily New Offices, Shanghai, ca 1870; “Plan de la concession française à Shanghai”, Shanghai, Imprimerie de Erhard, 1882; Cadastral plan of the (so-called) English settlement, Shanghai”, Shanghai, Shanghai Municipal Council, 1890; Street plan of the British and French Settlements”, Shanghai, 1900; Saishin Shanhai chizu 最新上海地図 (The New Map of Shanghai City), Shanghai, Shōsuido Shōten, 1908; Street Plan of the Foreign Settlement (Central District) & French Settlement at Shanghai in The Chronicle and directory for China, Corea, Japan, the Philippines, [Indo-china, Straits settlements, Siam, Borneo, Malay states, etc., Hong Kong, "Daily Press" Office, 1895 & 1926; Saishin Shanhai chizu 最新上海地圖 (The New map of Shanghai), Osaka, Mainichi shinbunsha; Shanghai shi hanghao lutu lu 上海市行號路圖錄 (Shanghai Street Directory), Shanghai, The Free Trading Co. Ltd., 2 vols., 1939-1940.

10 A case in point is the 1857 picture of the Bund and its labeling by Morse in his 1910 book. The captions have been taken for granted and reproduced in various publications. Yet there is a major mistake on one of the buildings – Dr. Dixon/Oriental Bank – (location and attribution) that seriously flaws the distribution of the buildings on the Bund. The painting dated as of 1857 by Morse is actually a later work produced in 1862 as shown in Arts of Asia. Morse, Hosea Ballou, The international relations of the Chinese empire, London, New York [etc.] Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910-18, Vol. 1, p. 464; For a full discussion of Morse’s captions, see Politzer, “The Changing Face of the Shanghai Bund”, pp. 76-77

11 For 1987, we used a remarkable cartographic document produced by the Shanghai municipality. It covers the whole municipality at the block level. Shanghai shi shangyong dituce 上海市商用地图册 (Shanghai business atlas), Shanghai, Shanghai fanyi chuban gongsi, 1987, 2 vols.

12 The term came to be used by civil engineers in Shanghai – “bunding” – to designate the action of placing sloping stone pavement against an earth bank with a foundation of fascine work and a stone wall at the toe of the sloping pavement. Heidenstam, H. von, The improvement of the Huang Pu River (Shanghai, China) for ocean navigation, Brussels, Permanent International Association of Congresses of Navigation, Office of the Secretary General,1920], p. 16

13 Taylor, Jeremy E., "The Bund: littoral space of empire in the treaty ports of East Asia", Social History, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2002, p. 129. The argument is debatable. One can also read this linguistic process of appropriating foreign words as a form of spontaneous hybridization and practical way of working out a practical common language. The term ‘bund’, at least in Chinese, never had an impact on the native language.

16 « Street plan of the English, French and American settlement, » London, published for the North China Herald and North China Daily New Offices, Shanghai, ca 1870.

17 « Cadastral plan of the (so-called) English settlement, Shanghai », Shanghai, Shanghai Municipal Council, 1890.

18 In 1865, the SMC adopted the first general scheme that established the names of all roads in the settlement, with all North-South streets named after Chinese provinces and East-West streets named after Chinese cities. The road along the Huangpu was named “Yangtsze Road”. Yuan Xieming 袁燮铭, "Gongbuju yu shanghai luzheng" 工部局与上海路政 (The Shanghai Municipal Council and road policy), Shanghai yanjiu luncong 上海研究论丛no. 21989, p. 176

20 We have chosen to translate tan by bank. The actual meaning is closer to “beach”, which it actually was until the Bund was turned into an embankment by plating wooden posts along the bank. Up to then, at low ebb, the river withdrew and left a 30-meter wide open mud-bank.

21 Xue Liyong 薛理勇, Waitan de lishi he jianzhu 外滩的历史和建筑 (History and construction of the Bund), Shanghai, Shanghai shehui kexueyuan chubanshe 2002, p. 2. In several cases, the Chinese used the terms li (internal) and wai (external) to indicate the greater (nei) or lesser (wai) degree of proximity of a location. There was even an intermediate degree with the use of zhong (middle) for places located between these two extremes. There remains several place names in Shanghai that are linked to this practice. The Chinese name of the Garden Bridge – waibaidu qiao 外白渡橋 is such a case. The name makes sense only in relation with another bridge called libaidu qiao 裡白渡橋 that was located further inside the Soochow Creek, whereas the Garden Bridge was located at the mouth of the creek where it merges into the Huangpu river.

22 Xue Liyong, Waitan de lishi he jianzhu, 2002, p. 3

23 This system of defense administration was designed in the aftermath of the Taiping rebellion. Shanghai County was divided into 27 pu. It was an evolution from the previous system of local administration below the county level that comprised xiang (), bao (), and tu (). Altogether Shanghai county was oganized into 217 tu. The main idea was to organize a merchant militia defense network based on a new territorial division. Shiliupu (Pu No. 16) was the largest in the city. Over time, the name “shiliupu” was adopted to designate the wharves along the river. By 1906, the Qing government started to introduce local self-government organs with a new territorial division in 9 districts. Xue Liyong 薛理勇, Shanghai tan diming zhanggu 上海灘地名掌故 (Stories about the place name of the Shanghai Bund), Shanghai, Tongji daxue chubanshe, 1994, pp. 238-240

24 On the history of street names in the French Concession, see the very careful study by J.H. Haan, The Sino-Western Miscellany, being historical notes about foreign life in China, s.l., s.n., 1993.

25 He, Zhaoyin 柯兆银 & Zhuang Zhenxiang 庄振祥 (eds), Shanghai tan yeshi 上海滩野史 (An unofficial history of the Shanghai Bund), Nanjing, Jiangsu wenyi chubanshe, 1993, p. 8 ; Xue Liyong, Waitan de lishi he jianzhu, 2002, p. 2

26 All about Shanghai, 1934, p. 45

27 “Shanghai tudi zhangcheng” (Shanghai land regulations) in Shanghai gonglu shi 上海公路史 (A History of Shanghai streets), Shanghai, Renmin jiaotong chubanshe, 1989, p. 201

28 Wu Jiang 伍 江, Shanghai bai nian jianzhu shi, 1840-1949 上海百年建筑史 (The History of Shanghai Architecture), Shanghai, Tongji daxue chubanshe, 1997, p. 47

29 Wang Shaozhou 王绍周, Shanghai jindai chengshi jianshe 上海近代城市建设 Shanghai Modern Architecture), Shanghai, Jiangsu kexue jishu chubanshe, 1989, p. 17

30 The “Committee on roads and jetties” was later renamed “Municipal Council” after the signing of the Land regulations between the British Consulate and the Shanghai Daotai. Initially there was a plan to have all foreign areas – British, American, and French – to come under a single municipal organization called “Excutive Committee” (工部局 gongbuju in Chinese). Yet the plan for a single administration failed when the French decided to preserve their autonomy. The “Executive Committee” was renamed “Municipal Council” (Shanghai Municipal Council), though the Chinese name remained unchanged. In the French Concession, the process was very similar with a “Comité des routes” initially taking care of the first layout of roads. Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, pp. 264-265

31 Shanghai gonglu shi, 1989, p. 27

32 Couling, Samuel; Lanning, George, The history of Shanghai, Shanghai, Kelly & Walsh, 1921, p. 389

33 Yuan Xieming, "Gongbuju yu shanghai luzheng", 1989, p. 175

34 He Zhaoyin &Zhuang Zhenxiang, (eds), Shanghai tan yeshi, 1993, p. 8 

35 “Customs House”, photograph, undated, 2003.R22 Box 35, Getty Research Institute. In its early stage, the Bund probably looked like the Bund at Jiujiang for which J. Thomson left a good photographic record. J. Thomson, Illustrations of China and its People. A series of two hundred photographs, with letterpress descriptive of the places and people represented, London, Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, Vol. 3, 1874.

36 The area where the Public garden stands was originally called the “Consular flats”. It was formed by the accumulation of mud and stilt from the river around the wreck of a small vessel that had sunk near the site. Darwent, Rev. C. E., Shanghai. A handbook for travellers and residents, Shanghai, Kelly & Walsh, 1904, p. 3

37 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, p. 3

38 The photographic record documents the gradual process that turned the Bund from a small road into a wide area encompassing a road, a space covered with grass and trees, and jetties and pontoons. The earlier 30-meter long jetties were progressively turned into pathways on the newly reclaimed land.

39 Yuan Xieming, "Gongbuju yu shanghai luzheng"1989, pp. 175-176 and 179

40 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, pp. 163-164; “Fa zujie wantan de di yi tiao malu” (The first road on the Bund of the French Concession) in Shanghai yanjiu ziliao上海研究資料 (Research materials on Shanghai), Shanghai, Shanghai shudian, 1984 (1st ed. 1936), p. 345

41 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 61

42 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 239 and p. 244. When solicited by the French consul, the Shanghai Daotai replied that while he fully understood the needs of the French merchants, he also observed that the areas coveted by the French consul were highly valued by the local Chinese merchants and that the price of land was expected to be much higher than the one previously acquired. Furthermore, he pointed that the owners of some buildings, such as the Tianhougong, would never accept to sell their land. Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 234.

43 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, pp. 287-288

44 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 270

45 “Fa zujie wantan de di yi ge matou” (The first wharf on the Bund of the French Concession) in Shanghai yanjiu ziliao上海研究資料 (Research materials on Shanghai), Shanghai, Shanghai shudian, 1984 (1st ed. 1936), p. 357

46 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 288-289; Haan, The Sino-Western Miscellany, 1993, p. 90

47 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, p. 289 and p. 295

48 Maybon & Fredet, Histoire de la Concession française de Changhai, 1929, pp. 238. See picture “New North Gate (Porte Montauban)”, China collection, Box 35, Getty Research Institute.

49 Shanghai gonglu shi, 1989, p. 14. 

50 Cited in Zhang Zhongming, 张忠民 Qing qianqi shanghai gang fazhan yanbian xintan” 清前期上海港发展演变新探 (New investigation in the evolution of Shanghai harbor in the early Qing period), Zhongguo jinjishi yanjiu 中国经济史研究 (Studies in Chinese economic history), no. 3, 1987, p. 88

51 Zhang Zhongming, “Qing qianqi shanghai gang fazhan yanbian xintan”, 1987, p. 91

52 Sirr, Henry Charles, China and the Chinese : their religion, character, customs and manufactures : the evils arising from the opium trade with a glance at our religious, moral, political, and commercial intercourse with the country, London, W.S. Orr, 1849, p. 210

53 Wu Jiang, Shanghai bai nian jianzhu shi, 1840-1949, p. 53

54 Wang Shaozhou , Shanghai jindai chengshi jianshe, p. 491; All about Shanghai, 1934, p. 61

55 Elvin, Mark, "The Administration of Shanghai, 1905-1914" (1974) in Mark Elvin & William G. Skinner, eds., The Chinese City between Two Worlds, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1974, pp. 239-262; "The Gentry Democracy in Shanghai, 1905-1914", in Jack Gray, ed. Modern China\'s Search for a Political Form, London, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 41-65

56 Wu Jiang , Shanghai bai nian jianzhu shi, 1840-1949, p. 53

57 Yuan Xieming, "Gongbuju yu shanghai luzheng", 1989p. 201

58 All about Shanghai, 1934, p. 59 and p. 61

59 All about Shanghai, 1934, p. 1

60 All about Shanghai, 1934, p. 44

61 All about Shanghai, 1934, pp. 44-45

62 Yeh, Catherine Vance “The Life-Style of Four Wenren in Late Qing Shanghai” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 1997 57, 2, pp. 426-428; Yeh, Catherine, Shanghai Love. Courtesans, Intellectuals, and Entertainment Culture, 1850-1910, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2006, chapter “Guides to paradise: Entertainment in the formation of Shanghai’s identity”, pp. 304-340

63 Report of proceedings on a voyage to the Northern ports of China, in the ship Lord Hamherst, London, B. Fellowes, 1833, p. 173

64 Bell, George, Voyage en Chine du capitaine Montfort avec un appendice historique sur les derniers événements, Paris, Victor Lecou, 1854, p. 265

65 Smith, W. L. G. (William L. G.), Observations on China and the Chinese, New York, Carleton, 1863, pp. 122-123

66 Dennys, N. B. (ed.), The Treaty ports of China and Japan, London, Trubner and Co., 1867, p. 355

67 Hermann Wallich, Aus meinem Leben, in: Zwei Generationen im deutschen Bankwesen, 1833-1914, Frankfurt am Main, 1978 (1st ed., 1929), pp. 85-97

68 Dennys, N. B. (ed.), The Treaty ports of China and Japan, London, Trubner and Co., 1867, p. 376

69 Dennys, The Treaty ports of China and Japan, 1867, p. 383. The walled city is covered in one paragraph that basically dissuades the traveler from visiting, “except as an exemplification of the extreme of native filth and squalor”, a regular trope in 19th-century travel accounts. See Dupée, Jeffrey N., British travel writers in China–writing home to a British public, 1890-1914, Lewiston, N.Y. : E. Mellen Press, 2004, chap. 5

70 Kahler, William R., My holidays in China, Shanghai, n.p., 1895, p. 7

71 Macgowan, J. (John), Pictures of southern China, London, Religious Tract Society, 1897, pp. 10-11

72 Macgowan, Pictures of southern China, 1897, p. 13

73 Taylor’s interpretation of the Bund as a space per se fails to take into account the historical process of construction of the image/myth of the Bund. The terms did not create the space. The space came to be created out of necessity in different urban settings that Taylor does not discuss. The extent to which the term Bund came to acquire a specific meaning must have varied according to the cities, but above all it was a ‘myth-creation’ process that took place over several decades. It was also a process that took place within the Western world with a limited impact on local society. Taylor, Jeremy E., "The Bund: littoral space of empire in the treaty ports of East Asia", Social History, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2002.

74 Macgowan, , Pictures of southern China, , 1897, p. 12

75 Bird, Isabella L., The Yangtze Valley and beyond : an account of journeys in China, chiefly in the province of Sze Chuan and among the Man-Tze of the Somo territory, London : J. Murray, 1899, pp. 18-19

76 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, p. 1

77 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, p. 5

78 Gamewell, Mary Ninde, The Gateway to China: Pictures of Shanghai, New York, Fleming H. Revell Company 1916, p. 42

79 Darwent, Rev. C. E., Shanghai. A handbook for travellers and residents, Shanghai, Kelly & Walsh, 1920, p. 1

80 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1920, p. 1

81 Crow, Carl, The Travelers’ handbook for China, Shanghai, Kelly & Walsh, 1916, p. 86; 1933 (5th ed.), pp. 145-146; The Travelers’ handbook for China, Shanghai, Dood, Mead & Co., 1921 (3rd ed.), p. 106; 1925 (4th ed.), pp. 139-140.

82 Crow, The Travelers’ handbook for China, 1921, p. 107.

83 Tourist Guide to Shanghai-North China, compiled by California Directory Association, compliments of Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels Ltd., [Shanghai], n.p., 1930, p. 15

84 Bird, The Yangtze Valley and beyond, 1899, p. 23. For this author, the French settlement is “small, markedly inferior, and gives one an impression of arrested development.”

85 Gamewell, The Gateway to China, p. 43

86 There will be a sequel to this paper in the form of a visual narrative on “The Bund at Work”.

87 Wang, Tao 王韜, Man you sui lu 漫遊隨錄 (Idle travel notes), Shanghai, Zhu yi tang, 2004 [1877], p. 23

88 Wang, Jiaju, 王稼句 Qianji” (Foreword) in Wang Tao 王韜, Man you sui lu 漫遊隨錄 (Idle travel notes), Shanghai, Zhu yi tang, 2004 [1877], p. 6. The only known diary by Wang Tao does not include anything about his arrival in Shanghai. Wang, Tao 王 韜, Wang Tao riji 王韜日記 (Wang Tao diary), Beijing, Zhonghua shuju, 1987.

89 There is some disagreement on the size of the population of Suzhou, with F.W. Mote supporting a high figure of one million in the 1850s, while W.G. Skinner offers a more conservative estimate of 700,000. “Introduction: Urban development in Imperial China”, in William G. Skinner (ed.), The City in late imperial China, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1977, p. 29

90 In the early period of settlement, trade companies often also served in a consular capacity for a given country. Jardine, Matheson & Co. displayed the Danish flag; Dent & Co. carried the Portuguese flag; A. Heard & Co. represented Russia. In 1867, Great Britain, France, Spain, Prussia and the United States were the only powers represented by official consuls. Dennys, N. B. (ed.), The Treaty ports of China and Japan, London, Trubner and Co., 1867, p. 380

91 Zhang Zhongming,“Qing qianqi shanghai gang fazhan yanbian xintan”, 1987, p. 91

92 Yuan Xieming, "Gongbuju yu shanghai luzheng", 1989p. 170

93 McAleavy, H., Wang T’ao (1828-1890). The life and writings of a displaced person, London, The China Society, 1953, p. 4; Yeh, Catherine Vance, “The Life-Style of Four Wenren in Late Qing Shanghai”, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 57, no. 2, 1997, p. 423-424

94 Wang, Tao 王 韜, Wang Tao riji 王韜日記, p. 117

95 Ge, Yuanxu 葛元煦, Hu you za ji 滬游雜記 [1876], Shanghai, Shanghai guji chubanshe 上海古籍出版社, 1989.

96 This discussion is based on the examination of the following guides: Shanghai zhinan 上海指南 (Guide to Shanghai : A Chinese Directory of the Port), Shanghai, Shangwu yinshuguan, 1909 (1st ed.); 1919; 1920; 1923; 1925; 1926 ; 1930; Shanghai youlan zhinan 上海遊覽指南 (A Comprehensive Guide of Shanghai), Shanghai, Zhonghua tushu jicheng gongsi, 1923; Lin Zhen 林 震, Shanghai zhinan 上海指南 (Guide of Shanghai), Shanghai, Shangwu yinshuguan, 1930; Shanghai shenmi zhinan 上海神秘指南 (Secret Guide secret of Shanghai), Shanghai, Datong tushushe jianyin, s.d., 2 vol.; Xu Wancheng 許晚成, Huang Jingwan 黄警頑, Shanghai zhinan 上海指南 (Guide of Shanghai), Shanghai, Guoguang shudian, s.d.; Shen Bojing 沈伯經, Shanghai shi zhinan 上海市指南 (Guide of the Shanghai Municipality), Shanghai, Zhonghua shuju, 1933; Liu Peiqian 柳培潛 (ed.), Da shanghai zhinan 大上海指南 (Guide of Greater Shanghai), Shanghai, Zhonghua shuju, 1936; Leng, Xingwu 冷省吾, Zuixin shanghai zhinan 最新上海指南 (New Guide of Shanghai), Shanghai, Shanghai wenhua yanjiushe, 1946; Wang Changnian (ed.) 王昌年 Da shanghai zhinan 大上海指南 (Guide of Greater Shanghai), Shanghai, Dongnan wenhua fuwushe, 1947.

97 Sun Enlin, 孙恩霖Pubin cansang” 浦濱滄桑錄, Luyou zazhi 旅行雜誌 (China Traveler). Vol. 4, no. 1, January 1930, pp. 67-73

98 Ji Longsheng, 鸡 笼生 Da shanghai 大上海 (Greater Shanghai), Taibei, Nanfang zazhishe, 1942, pp. 11-12 and 22-23. The guide presents only a few other major streets in the International Settlement (Nanking, Peking, Foochow, and Fukien roads).

99 See for instance Shen nü 神女 (Goddess), 1934; Malu tianshi 马路天使 (Street angel), 1937 or Sanmao liu lang ji 三毛流浪记San mao), 1949.

100 Based on Wu Jiang , Shanghai bai nian jianzhu shi, 1840-1949, 1997, p. 113

101 Crinson, Mark, Modern Architecture and the End of Empire, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2003, p. 4

102 Murphey, Rhoads Shanghai: Key to Modern China, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1953, p. 34

103 Huebner, Jon W. “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, Papers on Far Eastern History, Vol. 39, March, 1989, p. 211

104 Murphey, Shanghai, p. 34

105 Denison, Edward, Building Shanghai: the Story of China’s Gateway, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Academy, 2006, p. 55

106 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. 47

107 Murphey, Shanghai, p. 69

108 Dyce, Charles M., Personal Reminiscences of Thirty Years’ Residence in the Model Settlement of Shanghai, London: Chapman & Hall, 1906, p. 36

109 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. pp. 47-48 and Dyce, Personal Reminiscences of Thirty Years, p. 35

110 Huebner, “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, p. 212

111 Murphey, Shanghai, p. 68

112 Dennys, The Treaty ports of China and Japan, 1867, p. 378

113 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. 66

114 Dyce, Personal Reminiscences of Thirty Years, p. 32.

115 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. 68

116 Darwent, Shanghai, 1904, 10

117 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. 76

118 Murphey, Shanghai, p. 31

119 Kuan, Seng and Rowe, Peter, Shanghai: Architecture and Urbanism for Modern China, p. 39

120 All About Shanghai, p. 45

121 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, 9

122 Gamewell, The Gateway to China, p. 44

123 Denison, Building Shanghai, p. 103

124 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, p. 66

125 Crinson, Mark. Modern Architecture, p. 5

126 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, 5

127 Kuan and Rowe, Shanghai, p., 40

128 Darwent, Shanghai. A handbook, 1904, 214

129 Murphey, Shanghai, p. 24.

130 Huebner, “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, 213

131 Bradley, Simon and Pevsner, Nikolaus, London 6 : Westminster, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2003, 73

132 Crinson, Modern Architecture, p. 6

133 Huebner, “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, p. 140

134 Huebner, “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, p. 143

135 Huebner, “Architecture on the Shanghai Bund”, p. 135

136 Crinson, , Modern Architecture, p. 8.

137 Kuan and Rowe, Shanghai, p, 36.

138 Shanghai zhinan 1957 上海指南 (Guide to Shanghai, 1957), [Shanghai : s.n.], 1957; Shanghai zhinan 上海指南 (Guide to Shanghai), Shanghai, Shanghai kexue jishu chubanshe, 1980.

139 Shanghai zhinan, 1980, pp. 167-184

140 Shanghai zhinan, 1980, p. 188

141 Shanghai shi diming jiaotong zhinan 上海市地名交通指南 (Guide of place names and communications in the Shanghai Municipality), Shanghai, Shanghai wenhua chubanshe, 1987, p. 45

142 Sun Ping (ed.) 孙平, Shanghai chengshi guihua zhi 上海城市規划志, Shanghai, Shanghai shehui kexueyuan chubanshe 上海社会科学院出版社, 1999, p. 468

143 Johnson, Linda C, Shanghai. From Market Town to Treaty Port, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p. 27. On the expansion of the Shanghai area, see the series of maps in Zhou Zhenhe, 周振鹤 Shanghai lishi ditu ji 上海历史地图集 (Historical atlas of Shanghai). Shanghai, Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1999, pp. 15-21

144 Sun Ping (ed.), Shanghai chengshi guihua zhi, 1999, pp. 405-407

145 Sun Ping (ed.), Shanghai chengshi guihua zhi, 1999, p. 469

146 Sun Ping (ed.), Shanghai chengshi guihua zhi, 1999, p. 470

147 Sun Ping (ed.), Shanghai chengshi guihua zhi, 1999, p. 473-475

148 On “Shanghai nostalgia”, see Zhang, Xudong, “Shanghai nostalgia: Postrevolutionary allegories in Wang Anyi’s literary production in the 1990s”, Positions: East Asian Cultures Critique, 8, 2, 2000, pp. 349-387.

149 The thrust of the whole paper is fairly accurate, with an emphasis on the Public Garden and its contested opening to the Chinese in 1928. The English version is quite similar, although the emphasis is more on the history and architecture. See (Chinese).

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