The 1933 building: Packing Meat No Longer

Who knew meat processing plants used to be so cool looking? This old abattoir (a new word for me too) in Northern Shanghai has been preserved from its carnivorous days and now functions as housing for boutique shops. Little has been done to alter the building, which is a good thing. A purse store hangs its merchandise along the brick walls. Extra stock is kept behind a tiny door that I image pig’s feet must have been stored. A jewelry store is holed up in a cylindrical space in the center of the building, spiral staircases surrounding it. A few cafes and restaurants have sprung up in the bigger areas.

But there is still retail space to be had. It’ll be interesting to hear what comes of the 1933 building, which had the misfortune of turning into a retail outlet just as the recession hit. Not helping is the fact that it’s in one of the poorer neighborhoods in Shanghai. I liked this becuase it was mostly empty and I got to wander freely through its slightly creepy low-ceilinged rooms, but I was trying to ignore the feeling of impending doom for the building. There’s nothing the Shanghainese like better than bulldozers and shiny new high-rises.

To check out the 1933 building for yourself, take metro line 10 to Hailun Road. Head south for about 1/3 of a mile. It is on the corner of Shajing and Zhoujiazui (10 Shajing). Come right before sunset and climb to the top of the building for views of Shanghai. The surrounding area is also pretty fun. Wuzhou road (east of, or behind the 1933 building) features rows of live-in stores selling produce, live chickens, meat and fish. The fish are also live. In the picture below that man’s arm is retrieving a little guy who tried to hop to freedom down the gutter. He didn’t make it.

Moller House: A Mini Winchester Mansion

You know the story of Sarah Winchester? Eccentric widow and heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, Sarah believed that she needed to move out west and commission a house to be built continuously. If construction was stopped, something really bad would happen. The result is the Winchester Mansion in San Jose, CA.

Swede Eric Moller of Shanghai apparently had a similar vision. His house is much smaller than the Winchester place, but features similar turrets and general craziness. The Moller house is now a hotel and popular wedding destination among the Shanghai elite. If you follow the walkway along the western gardens, there are tables enclosed in individual glass pagodas for evening dining.

To get to the Moller house, take metro line 1 to South Shaanxi Road. Head north. It’ll be on your left in about ½ a mile. It’s at 30 Sough Shaanxi Road. If you get to the Yan’an overpass you’ve gone too far. If you feel the need to watch old people exercise (including the high stepped backwards walk), take a detour through Xiangyang Park. It’s just west of the metro station.

Shanghai’s most famous walkway should only be done at night. I learned this the hard way, traipsing along the Huangpu River in the middle of the day, getting sunburned and wondering how I’d found the only stretch of real estate in China that doesn’t sell ice cream bars. On the other hand, if you ever want to escape Chinese mid-day crowds, the Bund is a good place to be.

At night things come alive. I returned after sunset and happily dodged kids flinging light-up slingshots, friends taking peace-sign-flashing photos, and couples strolling hand in hand. (Side note: A lot of Chinese guys carry their girlfriend’s purses. I don’t see this catching on in America.)

To get to the Bund, I would suggest heading there via Nanjing Road. Get to this road on metro line 10 or 2 and exit at East Nanjing Road (or if you want a longer walk, get off at the People’s Square station instead – metro lines 2, 8, or 1) and head east. Nanjing Road has long been the fashion mecca of China. This pedestrian only thoroughfare is the only place in China where you don’t stand the risk of being run over by a motorcycle. By day, Nanjing road is just the place to move from one store to another. In the evening you can see impromptu dance performances, donate money to living statues, or join in on a sing along fest.

At the corner of Nanjing and Zhongshan roads is the famous Peace Hotel, which has housed many a famous celebrity and revolutionary rabble rouser. Back in the day (pre-1956) it was named the Cathay Hotel.

If you cross Zhongshan road and take the staircase, you’ll be on the Bund. The lit-up scene before you features the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. After taking the obligatory photos, head north. The Bund comes to an end where the Huangpu rives curves left into Suzhou Creek. Huangpu Park is squished between the Bund and Zhongshan Road, and provides a pleasant place during the day to walk among lilies and pagodas while counting the number of Chinese men engaged in what appears to be the national pastime – sleeping. The benches are packed with families at night.

Back up on the Bund is the tri-towered Monument to the People’s Heroes. There’s also museum here about the history of the Bund which I did not frequent. I probably should have though, because admission is free. Anyways, from the park you can take a short walk across the Waibaidu Bridge to check out the Broadway Mansions and expensive hotels on the other side of Suzhou Creek.

While it wasn’t my favorite water-side walkway, or my favorite thing to do in Shanghai, strolling the Bund is something you just have to do while in the city. At night when the neon skyscrapers are pulsating and the well dressed crowds are flowing around you, it’s easy to understand why Shanghai is Asia’s Manhattan, the Paris of the East, and the city that just might help China take over the world