Very often, when Shanghailanders hear or talk about the “Shanghai of Today”, they inadvertently still like to think of that part of the world the way it used to be when they first arrived in that city. This may hold true especially with those that have never returned to Shanghai, a city that in the late 30’s opened its doors to 18,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Europe. It becomes boggling to the mind to many former refugees how Shanghai, where most of them alive today spent their formative years, has changed so vastly both in culture and in the infrastructure since their departure in the late 40’s.
Thanks to two
Shanghailanders, Horst Eisfelder from Australia, and Andreas Heinsius
from Los Angeles, California, we can contrast by way of new and vintage
photographs the old metropolitan features of Shanghai with the new
developments. Eisfelder, while living in Shanghai, was a young free
lance photographer whose photographs appear today in books, film, and in
the archives of Jewish studies. Heinsius, a student at Kadoorie School
until his departure from Shanghai, brought to the States a sizable
amount of personal memorabilia from Hongkew, part of which was donated
to yours truly. He recently found hidden in his garage a number of 8x10
black and white photographs of Shanghai taken in the early to mid 30’s
shown later in this report.
This photo journalistic report will also include items from this author’s memorabilia collection.
We begin by showing
the new and modern five-star high-rise hotel called The Ocean Hotel with
a restaurant on top overlooking part of the former Jewish Ghetto and the
old Settlement. The edifice shown from the outside
(Figure one) is located at the corner
of former Broadway and Wayside Road, and is a stone throw away from the
old police station where Mr.Goya, a boisterous Japanese administrator in
charge of the Jewish Ghetto, had his office. A view from atop the
restaurant looking North-east along former Ward Road is shown in
figure two (courtesy Horst Eisfelder,
2004). A second view shown in Figure three
overlooks Broadway where the old Wayside movie theater was located.
No longer do we see rickshaws on the streets of Shanghai which today are demeaning to the current regime of China. They appeared prior to the Communist takeover in masses on all the streets of Shanghai and were used as taxis by foreign settlers or upper-class Chinese natives (Figure four and Figure five).
Within a few short years after Mao Zedong’s Red Army marched into Shanghai, the big trading houses and banks along the Bund, shown in Figure six, were repossessed by the new communist government while the very symbol of foreign excess like the Shanghai Racecourse (Figure seven and Figure eight) was paved over and renamed the “People’s Square. In Figure nine we see foreign settlers during the heydays placing bets on the horses. Today, two buildings, the City Hall on the left and Urban planning Authority with an unusual roof, are located on the former Racecourse (Figure ten) courtesy Horst Eisfelder, 2004).
Huang Pu Park, remembered by Shanghailanders as the Public Gardens, was the first park in Shanghai (Figure 11). History tells us that in the early days the park was forbidden territory to the Chinese people with signs stating, “No Chinese Allowed.” The park was also not accessible to Jewish refugees during the war as it was located outside the restricted area. It was renovated in 1992 and today, with well-maintained and modernized walkways with adjacent old fashion lanterns extending along the Bund (Figure 12), provides an excellent view of Pudong. A monument dedicated to the People’s Heroes is also situated in the park on a round-shaped island (Figure 13).
Pudong the way it was in the 40’s, located across the Whangpoo River (Figure 14), was a nondescript stretch of land with sprawling neighborhoods of gray houses and tiled roofs. Pudong New Area, occupies 523 sq. km, and seen today from the Bund, resembles Manhattan, New York with its 140 high rises.
In the forefront of Pudong is the Orient Pearl TV Tower, 468 meters high with six elevators that can take a tourist to the top of the spheroid in forty seconds. The tower with Pudong in the background is illustrated on a recent philatelic souvenir sheet from China in Figure 15.
The Grand Hyatt Shanghai, shown in Figure 16, is the highest hotel in the world with guestrooms beginning from the 53rd floor to the 88th floor. A view from the top of the Hyatt is shown in Figure 17, and the lobby of the hotel in Figure 18.
Pudong was commonly reached from the mainland by junks until the second half of the 20th century (Figure 19). Today, there are modern bridges and tunnels spanning theWhangpoo River from Shanghai to Pudong, like the new Qing Pie Bridge shown in
The following vintage photographs taken by the unknown photographer and seen so far continue below:
The Bund looking North, figure (21); a second view of the Bund, figure (22); Avenue Edward Vii, figure (23); Nanking Road as seen from the Park Hotel, figure (24); Park Hotel on Bubbling Well Road, (figure (25); Bubbling Well Road, figure (26); Racecourse,
The, last series of photographs from Horst Eisfelder illustrated below were also taken during his return trip to Shanghai in October 2004.
The ‘Old Chinese City’ now mostly rebuilt, figure (33); a side street just off Broadway opposite the former ‘Shanghai Hongkew Wharf’, figure (34); at center, the Marriott Hotel located atop the oldest Jewish Cemetery on Bubbling Well Road next to the Racecourse, figure (35); a section of Pudong, figure (36), and Horst Eisfelder, inside the synagogue at the new Jewish Community Center, figure (37).
Shanghailanders and guests that are planning to participate in the Shanghai Reunion in 2006 will not only see the new, but hopefully, also some remnants of childhood memories that remained dear to their hearts. The Living Bridge Corporation, based in Toronto, which focuses among other projects on urban renewal and cultural preservation in Shanghai, is currently working toward keeping part of the former Hongkew Ghetto intact.