Wukang Lu Tourist Information Center

Wukang Lu 393
Wukang Lu Tourist Center Entrance

The Wukang Lu Tourist Information Center has been open for a few years now, and somehow always escaped me. Located on a tree lined street typical of the former French Concession, it would have been the perfect place to show people what this area was at the time it was created and how it compared to today’s transformation in the Shanghai equivalent to New York’s Greenwich Village, or Paris, Saint-Germain. Although it’s a nice effort from Xu Hui district, it still felt short of my expectations.

Model of building in Xu Hui
Model of the Normandy building in Xu Hui

As the name says, it is a tourist center, not a museum. Located in a 1912 building, it includes a number of fake art deco fixtures (also called fako, see post “the rise of fako“). The result of a strangely shaped building with a mix and (not) match of decoration from architecture style is a little strange but not uncommon in today’s China. However the models of buildings on display are really nice. They are some masterpieces of the area and this presentation really shows them in original state.

Fako decoration
Fako decoration

What is really weird is that no reference is made to past names, usage or inhabitants of those buildings, nor is there any pictures displayed. It’s like this part of the city suddenly jumped out of nowhere, that the past never existed. At the same time, there is lot’s of space for today’s picture of the district and its various bars and restaurants, mixing old and new buildings without any regard for architecture style or time period. Just like some official books about Old Shanghai I mentioned (see post “Classical Buildings of Old Shanghai“), the view is taken today without any relationship with the past that created this very special part of the city. I can understand that some part of history are better not told publicly, but there are some places in Shanghai already taking about it, too bad they are located in Pudong when this tourist center would be the perfect place for it (See post about Shanghai history museum).

Instead of a source of information to understand and appreciate the area, we get an empty shell with little interest. This even more surprising has Wukang Lu has been the first (and only) place in Shanghai, to display the former name of the street as well as extra information of the buildings in the area (see post “What’s in a name“). This lack of past reference is similar to Xu Hui Art Museum, located on the site of a major former library in Old Shanghai… with no mention of it (see post “Hung Ying Library, 1413 Avenue Joffre”). At least Wukang lu Tourist Centers sells cards for using the rental bikes of Xu Hui district, a great way to visit the area.

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