CHANGNING District in the west of downtown Shanghai is the first stop for many people visiting the city when they arrive at Hongqiao International Airport.
Whether you are an outdoors person or history buff, there’s always something to explore in Changning.
And with an area of 38.3 square kilometers, Changning has a long list of parks scattered around the district, not to mention a number of interesting museums that are perfect for family visits.
Evidence of Changning’s rich history is apparent around the district and a great way to experience this is to select several streets with heritage architecture and spend a day walking around and getting a feel of the area.
In 1930s and 1940s, a number of gardens and villas were built on Hongqiao Road — including those for well-known figures such as Tse-ven Soong, Kong Xiangxi, Bai Chongxi and Claire Lee Chennault.
Tai’an Road is 514 meters long and spans both Changning and Xuhui districts.
Built in the early 20th century, it was originally named Route Camille Lorioz.
Xinhua Road starts from Huaihai Road in the east and extends to Yan’an Road W.
Originally named Avenue Amherest, it was constructed in 1925. Its name was changed to Xinhua Road in 1965.
There are a dozen heritage architecture buildings and other old villas on Xinhua Road, including the home of American missionary Gilbert Reid, Meiquan Villa and the Song Shuren home.
Among Shanghai’s most famous roads, Yuyuan Road spans from Jing’an Temple to Zhongshan Park and connects Jing’an and Changning districts. Developed in the 1920s and 1930s, the street is home to many old houses of various style as well as new establishments.
In typical British country home style, it was owned by Shanghai real estate tycoon Victor Sassoon, in the 1930s.
Address: 2310 Hongqiao Rd
These brick and concrete structure terrace houses are of Spanish and English country style.
Address: Lane 120, Tai’an Rd
No. 4 Yi Village
The residence of renowned composer and music educator He Luting. He moved to this two-story modern garden residence in 1956 and lived here until he died in 1999.
Address: Lane 76, Tai’an Rd
This was the old office of the editorial department of “Bolshevik,” an early underground publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Address: Lane 1376, Yuyuan Rd
Shanghai Fire Museum
Next door to the City Fire Department, the museum is a place to learn about the history of fire-fighting in Shanghai. Many parents take their children to the museum to learn about fire safety. Admission is free and exhibits include fire trucks, hoses, ladders and uniforms, as well as multimedia displays.
Address: 229 Zhongshan Rd W.
This is a popular destination for visitors of all ages. Originally named Xijiao Park, the zoo changed its name in 1980 and is now home to more than 6,000 animals from 400 species. Residents include not only rare Chinese species such as giant pandas, snub-nosed monkeys, South China tigers and Chinese alligators, but also many species from other continents, including gorillas, lions, giraffes, kangaroos and penguins.
Address: 2381 Hongqiao Rd
The Hudec Memorial Hall
Opened a little over a year ago, this building has been renovated and now houses a permanent exhibition on the life and work of Hungarian architect LE Hudec, who was responsible for many of Shanghai’s iconic buildings in the early 20th century. It includes copies of archive materials and a documentary on Hudec’s life.
Address: 129 Panyu Rd
Huashan Children’s Park
It may not be as big as other parks, but is one of the remaining parks in the city especially for children.
Address: 1575 Huashan Rd
In the center of Changning, it was founded as Jessfield Park in 1914 and renamed to honor Dr Sun Yat-sen in 1944.
Address: 780 Changning Rd
Hongqiao Riverside Park
Perfect for a quiet stroll or for going for a jog along Suzhou Creek, the sidewalk is close to the water and in the evening offers a tranquil night view illuminated by the lights from the other side of the river bank.