Silas Hardoon’s garden

Silas Hardoon’s story of moving from a poor employee of the Sassoon house to the richest man in Shanghai, maybe Asia, is one of those Old Shanghai legends. He was the man that owned most of the ground on both side of Nanjing Road, making a fortune with the Westward extension of the city.

Silas Hardoon

The real mystery as long been how his famous garden and houses, Aili Garden, looked like. Aili Garden was built on the plot where the Shanghai exhibition center (formerly Sino-Soviet friendship building) is now located. As seen in picture below, this block is absolutely massive, occupying a large section of Central Shanghai.

Hardoon’s garden former location

Although Silas Hardoon was already very rich when he built the place, the Bubbling Well Road area (today Nanjing Xi Lu) was still a far away suburb. This was the area for big mansion with large parks, just like the Hong Qiao area in the 1930s and today’s Qingpu district. Picture below gives a clear idea of the street view of the time.

Bubbling Well Road (today Nanjing Xi Lu) 1910.

The garden was used as base by the Japanese army from December 1941 and mostly destroyed by fire in 1943, freeing prime location space for the construction of the Shanghai exhibition Center in 1956. There was no picture available of the garden and its appearance was only described in a few books. Hardoon’s garden was lost in history.

This is until my good friends from Historic Shanghai found a source and published unseen original pictures from Hardoon’s family.

These amazing pictures can be found at this link: http://www.historic-shanghai.com/inside-hardoons-garden/

5 thoughts on “Silas Hardoon’s garden”

  1. Hardoon (HaTong) rd was renamed TongRen rd by the gov of ROC. It is said that Har(doon) sounds little like (Tong)Ren.

  2. To be exact, this so-called ROC government was reorganized by Wang Jingwei (or Wang Ching-wei) in 1940, and was thus a puppet regime controlled by Imperial Japan during WWII. It was very similar to Vichy France (Régime de Vichy) supported by Nazi.

  3. Thanks a lot for your comment. The parallel with France is very clear, and Wang Jingwei has been called The Chinese Petain in French littérature on the topic. However, Hardoon’s Garden was located in the former international settlement, that became occupied by Japanese forces in December 1941.

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