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The Bund

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2013-01-30

The iconic Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, a stretch along the Huangpu River of landmark buildings, the great banks and trading houses of Western settlement days. The Bund was the “Oriental Wall Street” where the rich and powerful made much of their wealth.Today the Bund has undergone a major renovation and now a brand-new Bund has been opened to the public, housing some of the world’s top luxury stores, up-scale venues and glittering restaurants and clubs.

Today from the promenade, it offers a stunning view across the river to the spectacular skyline of Pudong.At one time, the Bund epitomized prosperous Shanghai with its neoclassical buildings, banks, exclusive clubs and consulates. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, the United States and other countries were represented.Chen Danyan, a Shanghai-based writer, published “Images and Legends of the Shanghai Bund” in 2008.In Chen’s view, the Bund for many years was, and still is, remote from many Shanghai people’s daily lives. It was a paradise for Western bankers at one time and today it features luxury brands targeting at high-end consumers.The Bund, derived from the Indian word for “bank” (river bank), extends 1.5 kilometers along the Huangpu River. It is noted for at least 52 buildings of distinctive architectural styles.Once the Bund was divided between the former British and French concessions until the beginning of the 1940s.

During the war years and after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Bund structures were boarded up, neglected, divided up, badly renovated and generally forgotten. The Bund area was run down.

It became a lover’s lane in the early 1990s when young people could flee their cramped quarters, snuggle and gaze across the river at the bright lights on the other side.Enormous renovation has taken place, making the Bund a magnet for clubbers and shoppers these days. Buildings have been beautifully restored, including the Asiatic Petroleum Building, Peace Hotel and the Customs building

Traffic has been much smooth since a six-lane multi-level vehicle tunnel was completed in March 2010. The Bund has turned into a financial center and a tour landmark from a major traffic artery.

No.1 on the Bund

No. 1 on the Bund, or Asiatic Petroleum Building, was built in 1916 and was the tallest building on the Bund at the time. It now houses the head office of China Pacific Insurance.

The building, designed by prominent Shanghai firm Moorhead & Halse, is a combination of baroque and neoclassical styles. Exterior repairs to the national heritage architecture were completed on August 31. The whole project is scheduled to finish before October.

Waibaidu Bridge

Spanning Suzhou Creek and extending west to Huangpu Park, the landmark steel bridge was built in 1907, linking northern and eastern areas. It was a familiar backdrop for popular films and TV movies set in Shanghai.

The bridge was removed, refurbished and restored for 10 months and replaced in its original location in April.

Peace Hotel

The famous hotel stands at the crossroads of Nanjing Road E. and Zhongshan Road E1. It was reopened in the mid 2010 as the luxury five-star Fairmont Peace Hotel. Renovation of the north building, built in 1929, retains its Art Deco style. Renovation cost an estimated 500 million yuan (US$73 million).

The hotel has 269 deluxe guestrooms and suites, eight restaurants and lounges, banquet facilities, the famed Jazz Bar — an institution since the 1930s, the legendary Peace Hall with a sprung-wooden dance floor, a magnificent restored shopping arcade, plus swimming pool, spa and other facilities.

Design Republic Flagship Store

Founded by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, the boutique designer’s store offers unusual and unique home decoration products created by the world’s design virtuosos, including Batllo Bench by Antonio Gaudi. Many were never before available in China.

Address: 1/F, 5 Zhongshan Road E1

Tel: 6329-3123

Hours: 11am-9pm

Website: www.thedesignrepublic.com

Gabbiani

The stark red chandeliers hanging in Bund 18 are impressive pieces from Gabbiani, the globally known Italian glass maker. Gabbiani mixes folk Venetian craftsmanship with modern design.

Address: 2/F, 18 Zhongshan Road E1

Tel: 6329-9258

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