A new beginning for The Great World

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-11 10:31

History of The Great World

A new beginning for The Great World

(From left to right) The number of visitors started to decline since late 1990s, former mafia boss Huang Jinrong ended up as a sweeper in The Great World and the venue was a must-see among locals and tourists in 1980s. [Photo provided to China Daily]

July 14, 1917: The Great World was opened on the French National Holiday in the French Concession. The compound is as large as Shanghai Disneyland's centerpiece castle.

1931: Following the death of its founder Huang Chujiu, the park was taken over by Huang Jinrong, a mafia kingpin, at a low price. The park was renamed as Rong's Great World and gained notoriety for its gambling operations and sex services.

1955: The venue was renamed Shanghai People's Amusement Park after it was taken over by the municipal government following the founding of the People's Republic of China. The new name was soon dropped as residents still preferred The Great World. The former mafia boss ended up as a sweeper in the facility. Chen Yi, who was then the mayor of Shanghai, later ordered the park to be redesigned into a space for educational purposes.

A new beginning for The Great World

(From left to right) The park in 1930 and the compound in 1917. [Photo provided to China Daily]

1966: The park was named Oriental Red, the title of the song praising the late Chairman Mao Zedong, during the "cultural revolution" and had functioned as a warehouse till 1974.

1987: The venue was named The Great World once more. Bumper cars, discos and fashion shows were introduced to the facility, which made it highly popular among locals and tourists. The government also used the venue to hold weekly blind dating events as the decade-long political movement in China had left many urbanites single after they were sent to the countrysides.

2003: Deserted for years since the late 1990s, the management of The Great World used the SARS epidemic as an excuse to shut the park down.

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