Our school lies on the corner of Huating (华亭路) and Huaihai Middle Road (淮海中路). Huating Road was constructed between the years 1919 and 1921. Huating Road lies South of ChangleRoad and North of Huaihai Middle Road in the area of Shanghai known today as the Former French Concession. This area of Shanghai has a very interesting history, and while the names of the roads may have changed, their positions have remained the same and thus, the roads have bared witness to the interesting and evolving environment surrounding them. Huaihai Middle Road has been through a few name changes since its construction. It was originally called BaoChang Road (宝昌路), but in June of 1915 the name was changed to Xiafei Road after the French General Joffrre, in honor of his outstanding military service.
Huating Road has also bared witness to agreat deal of change in the past century. Here is a little more information about the road itself: Huating Road is approximately 732m long and lies perpendicular to what we now know as Huaihai Middle Road. Huating Road was originally called Maiyang Road (麦阳路), after a French businessman.This name however, changed in 1942 to HuatingRoad.
A brief introduction to the French occupation in Shanghai: On the 6th of April 1849 the French Consulto Shanghai, Charles de Montigny, obtained a proclamation that approved territory, administrative and building rights in Shanghai for a French settlement. It was thus on this date that the French Concession in Shanghai was formerly established. The French maintained this territory in Shanghai from1849 until 1943 when the Vichy French government signed over the settlement area to the pro Japanese government in Nanjing (Nanking), thus ending the almost century long French occupation in Shanghai.
Pic from baidu.com
The building in which our school is located was typical of the old Mediterranean style villas found in the French Concession during the last century. This style of villa was very popular amongst the French at the time and thus, many were built in the French Concession during the French occupation. The French Concession was known as a noble residential area and boasted many villas just like the one of our school. These buildings are where the wealthy and well off French expatriates would reside in Shanghai.This building style typically boasted tiled walls, pointed roofs, oval windows and small gardens. The Plain trees you see planted along the sides of many ofthe roads in the former French Concession are also a legacy of the foreign presence in Shanghai. The French originally named many of the streets in the former French Concession, after French generals, businessmen or merchants,however these names were changed after 1943 when the French gave up control oftheir territory Shanghai.
Jumping forward to the 1980s, Huating Road was the home to a famous clothes market, which was said to have been the birth place of Shanghai’s fashion scene. The picture below portrays the market on a typical day in 1984.Interestingly, the KFC that is today located on Huating Road, boasts interior decorations which pay homage to the Huating clotheing market
The picture below is a view of Huating Road in 1915 and was taken fromwhat we know today as Huaihai Middle Road.Can you recognize it? What has changed between then and now?
In the 1990s the villa originally locatedadjacent to our school’s building was demolished and replaced with a metrostation. Today there is also a KFC. The picture below is from the same angle,but taken in 2014. Perhaps it’s easier to recognize it now?
Got some extra time on your hands this summer? Why not take a stroll down Huating Road and imagine the old clothes market that used to be located here. You can also take a look around the premises of our school for a bit of a blast from the past feeling. Mandarin Inn has recently renovated the second floor in the old Villa house and invites you to come and take a look. Feel free to use this space for studying, meeting with friends, or even to enjoy a cup of coffee. The second floor is open from 9.30am- 6.30pm during the week and from 10am – 4pm on the weekends. Maybe we can even start an impromptu study group!
Feel free to stop by and enjoy this lovely area. It’s the perfect spot for a few hours of study or chill time!
About the Blogger
Having grown up in South Africa, attended College in the US and now living in China, has allowed Stephanie to experience a multitude of differing cultural perceptions of the world. She's learning Mandarin AT Mandarin Inn and is studying for her HSK-LEVEL 5 certificate.