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Strolling down memory lanes on Yuyuan Road
By Li Anlan

Last month, the Shanghai Housing, Land and Resources Administration released a list for a fifth group of important historical buildings, after an 11-year gap since the last batch.

Currently, Shanghai has 2,138 buildings at 632 locations included in the list and under protection.

Among the 419 addresses in the fifth list, 25 are in Changning District — of which 14 are on Yuyuan Road.

One of Shanghai’s most famous roads, Yuyuan Road was built in the late 19th century, running from Jing’an Temple to Zhongshan Park and connecting Jing’an and Changning districts.

Taking a stroll from one end of Yuyuan Road to the other is like turning pages of a history book.

It also offers a tranquil ambiance, in strong contrast to the hustle and bustle along nearby Nanjing Road.

There are numerous garden villas on Yuyuan Road, many built in the decade after the First World War.

At the time, it was a high-end residential neighborhood favored by the upper middle classes and city celebrities.

After 1949, a number of the houses became office buildings, while others became homes for city residents, often living in crowded living conditions.

Many small shops opened on sides of the road.

Spring is a perfect time to take a stroll down Yuyuan Road and explore this area rich in Shanghai’s history.

One possible route is to take the Metro Line 2 to Zhongshan Park station and then walk to Jiangsu Road Metro station and along Yuyuan Road.

Here are some of the historic highlights you can see along the way in Changning.

Lane 1376: Heng Chang Li


A typical old-fashioned neighborhood, Heng Chang Li was built by Sincere and Wing On companies

in 1925 to house their senior employees. There are 25 three-story shikumen lane houses. 

No. 48 is the old office of the editorial department of “Bolshevik” founded in October 1927. It was an early underground publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Now the building is a cultural heritage site, open free to the public.

Lane 1315: Rui Xing Fang


This three-story British-style house was the former residence of Rewi Alley (1897-1987), the New Zealand-born writer who became a member of the Communist Party of China.

Built in 1912, the house is well equipped with facilities. The ground floor has a kitchen and garage, the second floor is meeting rooms and study, while Alley’s bedroom is on the third floor. There’s also a garden on the east side.

Lane 1136: Wang Boqun Garden Residence


The 31st unit of Lane 1136 was built by Wang Boqun in 1934, the former Kuomintang

minister of transport. The four-story concrete main building has more than 30 rooms. The interior decor of the living room is in traditional oriental art style. The large garden lawn has many trees, a bridge and flower beds. The Victorian Gothic-style garden villa is currently the home of Shanghai Changning Children’s Palace.

Lane 1032: Qi Shan Cun


The garden residences in this neighborhood were built during 1925 and 1930. Author Shi Zhecun (1905–2003), known for his short stories, was a long-time resident.

Lane 749

Built in 1930s, this lane has been regarded as one of the most mysterious along the Yuyuan Road, because the No. 63, 65 and 67 European-style garden villas in it were once homes to Li Shiqun, Zhou

Fohai and Wu Sibao, who were notorious for their roles during the World War II.


Lane 699: Yan’s Garden


Built by a German doctor in the 1920s, this was the former residence of businessmen

Yan Yutang and Yan Qingxiang, who purchased the property in 1940.

Lane 1088: Hongye Garden


This garden was constructed around 1900. Inside there are individual garden houses as well as shikumen buildings. No.103 was the former residence of pianist Gu Shengying.

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