From the top of Broadway Mansions

Bund from Broadway Mansion 2009
Bund from Broadway Mansion 2009

The Bund is probably Shanghai’s the most visited attraction. This strip of land has seen many transformations but has always remained the symbol of the city. In the run-up to Expo 2010, it is being remodeled again. The elevated walk created to stop flooding and used as a promenade is being expanded and renovated to welcome the expected millions of visitors. Similarly, the Garden Bridge (also known as Waibaidu Bridge, picture left) has been fully renovated for the 100th year of its construction. It is now open again for traffic and is a great ride in a sidecar. The re-opening of the bridge was followed by an official exhibition of photographs of the bridge and the renovation work that is well worth visiting. During the exhibition grand opening in Broadway Mansions (used to be called Broadway apartments), I had the opportunity to climb up the 18th floor terrace of the building and take pictures up there.

Bund from Broadway Mansion 1935
Bund from Broadway Mansion 1935

Looking in my own collection of pictures, I found this one that was surely taken from exactly the same place. This picture was taken probably in 1935 or 1936 as Broadways Apartments was finished (1934) but the Bank of China Tower is not yet visible (completed in 1937). The hotel staff showing me the terrace was so proud to tell me that Richard Nixon and Zhou En Lai had met on this particular terrace in the 1970’s. In any case, the view up there is stunning and not so much has changed ever since. Hopefully the new Bund promenade with an enlarged garden will bring back a lot to the old Bund Garden. The place I took the picture from is normally not open to the public as the room next to the terrace is the most luxurious room of the hotel’s restaurant. For years, this spot has been the best place to get a view of the Bund… and it is still one of the best.

British Consulate area 2009
British Consulate area 2009

Looking at another direction from the top of Broadway Mansions, I could not help not taking pictures of the area of the Old British Consulate.  I already had been interested in this area in a previous post, with pictures of the destruction of the Union Church. Although it has now been destroyed, the Church is still featured on all the rendering for the project, so I could even imagine that the intention is to rebuild “better and more modern”, though I somehow doubt it. Both buildings of the British Consulate are still there, currently being worked on to incorporate the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  Hopefully, this luxury establishment will take good care and create a nice balance between old and new. The old postcard below of the same area is difficult to date, but since the waibaidu bridge was on it, it dates from after 1908. The white building in the modern photo, the Capitol theater was built after the burning of the building before, i.e. 1924. So the card is from before 1924, when the whole Museum road was re-developed. My guestimation is mid 1910’s

British Consulate Area 1910's
British Consulate Area 1910's
Inside of the swimming pool
Inside of the swimming pool

The most surprising is the building along the river (with the tennis court above it in the modern picture). I never thought that this was a historical building until I managed to get into it. This was the swimming pool of the American YMCA round the corner and was surely still in use until not so long ago. The picture at the end of the article is the one of the inside of this building, featuring the pool itself. It is now used as storage for the bricks harvested on the Yuan Min Yuan lu work, but I don’t think the pool will return to its original usage. Too bad, that was surely a great swim. This riverside pool reminds me of a similar one in Paris, and Komyadi swimming pool in Budapest where I used to go.