Monday, December 15, 2008

The Old Love Lane - Much Longer for this World?

Yesterday I mentioned some Beijing hutongs that are not likely to be around much longer. Today a part of old Shanghai that looks slated for 'redevelopment'. The lower half of Wujiang Lu food street in Shanghai has already been 'modernised' - i.e. everything torn down and a bland new precinct created with the usual boring Costa Coffee, Nike, Starbucks etc. Now the upper half of Wujiang Lu, the old Love Lane, looks likely to get a pounding soon.

The interesting thing is that the lower half, which is composed of traditional fast food restaurants and stalls is always busy. People voting with their wallets for tasty local food rather than western fast food. But the builders are encroaching - already some of the old houses have been destroyed and a couple of non-descript blocks of nonsense put in their place. It seems the rest of the street may follow as the relentless McDonaldisation 'progresses' (and I use that word obviously in an ironic sense).
Love Lane used to be a lot of fun in the 1920s and 1930s as a bar strip and home to a number of bordellos including Margaret Kennedy's where the girls didn't have to work on Sundays apparently. The major joint was the St Anna's Ballroom on the junction with Nanjing Road (pictured as it is now above) and where the all-black swing band from Seattle Earl Wheatley and his Red Hot Syncopaters used to be the house band in 1934 staying in Shanghai till 1937.

For the moment Love Lane/Wujiang Lu remains but the signs are ominous as virtually the whole block behind along Shimen No.1 Road has now been cleared for God knows what monstrosity. And so Shanghai will become a little less interesting than before.


gregory said...

have you or other people ever met with local officials to appraise them of the possible value of avoiding what singapore went through with over-modernization?

Jillot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jillot said...

I know it's a while since you posted ths but do you know if the top half of the old Love Lane has now been re-developed? My mother-in-law was born in a house there in 1911! My nephew is in Shanghai right now and I was going to send him on a recce to find the street!

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