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The Past and Present of Hongqiao
01/06/2014 changningtimes 区政府办公室

Hongqiao, a poetic name triggering the reminiscent of a curved rainbow in the sky after raining, is also the name of many places throughout China, such as Hongqiao village in Wanyuan city of Sichuan province, Hongqiao town in Yueqing of Zhejiang province, Hongqiao Road in Nanjing, etc. There is indeed a Bridge named Hongqiao in history, which can be seen in a famous landscape painting, Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan in Northern Song Dynasty. The core content of this painting is the prosperous scene on both sides of the Bian River in Bianliang, the capital of Northern Song Dynasty, where the “Hongqiao” bridge is over the river. However, the truly well-known in the world is the Hongqiao in Shanghai, attributed to the emergence of Hongqiao Development Zone in 1980s which is the symbol of reform and opening up to the world.

I would like to share the past and present of Hongqiao of Shanghai with readers.
The History of Hongqiao

The provenance of Hongqiao is not in Changning district. Before 1992, Hongqiao was only a village of Shanghai County. At present, Minhang district still keep Hongqiao town’s administrative division. During the period of People’s Commune, there were villas behind layers of trees on both sides of Hongqiao Road, surrounded by the fascinating view of south China. And natural villages like Ma Jia Jiao, Wang Jia Lou, Pan Jia Ta, Zong Geng Lang, Zhu Geng Lang etc. scattered in the field. In May 1992, the administrative division was adjusted in Shanghai, and Shanghai County was substituted with districts. The former Shanghai-Hangzhou railway Xuhong branch line (aviation oil supply line) was treated as a boundary. The south part of the railway is Minhang district, and the north part is Changning district. If you want to trace back, the historical site of “Laowai Street” on Hongmei Road is a great choice. This 500-meter-long restaurant street was built along the railway, and a locomotive was put at the entrance of west part of the street, demonstrating the railway function in the past. The north part of pubs and restaurants on “Laowai Street” is adjacent to a residential area on Hongqiao Road in Changning district, and the south part is near a residential area at Hongqiao town in Minhang district, that is a road goes through two districts. When the boundary was made, Hongqiao Road and Hongqiao International Airport were included in Changning district.

As to Hongqiao, the first event in China’s modern history is the building road across the border by Shanghai Municipal Council in 1901. In the colonial period, the center of Shanghai was divided to build concessions by different foreign powers. In order to enlarge their sphere of influence, colonial rulers expanded to the western suburb of Shanghai. A road, originally named as “Sheshan Road”, started to be built, from Xujiahui Old Street toward west, crossing Shanghai-Hangzhou railway and reaching Sheshan of Songjiang district. It was not completed due to a shortage of money and stopped within Hongqiao village, so its name was changed as “Hongqiao Road”. The second event is that the government of the Republic of China built an airport at the west part of Hongqiao Road in 1921, using the road name “Hongqiao”. After 8.13 Incident, it was changed as a military airport by Japanese invaders. After the victory of Anti-Japanese War, it was accepted by the government of the Republic of China. Till 1963 after the founding of new China, Hongqiao Airport was always used as a military airport.

Thanks to building roads across the border, those western adventurers and local high officials and noble lords of old Shanghai could build country villas along Hongqiao Road instead of in the priceless land in the central city, such as the Rubicon Garden owned by Mr. Victor Sassoon, the largest real estate tycoon in Shanghai who was a Jew; villas owned by Mr. Song Ziwen and Mr. Kong xiangxi who belonged to the four big families of the Republic of China; villas owned by Mr. Yan Xishan and Mr. Bai Chongxi who were warlords of Kuomintang; and Chen’s Garden owned by the family of patriot Ms. Chen Xiangmei etc. At the end of Hongqiao Road, there was also the first golf course named “Hungjao Shaoqiu Golf Club” in old Shanghai (where the Shanghai Zoo is settled now). All the historic events above constitute the original impression of Hongqiao in modern Shanghai. 

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