Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

City of Change

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Yan ‘An Road is one of my major navigational references in Shanghai. It runs east-west (more or less), from the Huangpu River right out the western border of the city (and how far beyond, I do not know). It is actually two roads, the surface street and the Elevated Road (essentially a freeway) above it. It runs straighter than most roads here, and is the closest thing there is to a bisection of the city on its east-west axis.

It’s convenient, easy to find, easy to follow, and basically all you could ask of a city street.

It used to be a river.

I didn’t believe that when I first read it, over a year ago. I took it as typical Chinese exaggeration, imprecision, and looseness with fact. On and about the road itself there is nothing to indicat it’s aqueous history.

But it was a river, and it divided the International Area of the city from the French Concession, which made up the bulk of Shanghai one hundred years ago. The Chinese section of the city was the area of the original town of Shanghai, and walled off from the French Concession, contained within the oval that is now Renmin Road. The river became so polluted that they simply finished filling it in, paved over it, and made it a road.

No purpose to this anecdote, it just struck me interesting.


Written by [IMH]

3 January 2006 at 11:51 am

Posted in Shanghai Stories

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