Water town

Updated: 2014-11-24 10:22

(Shanghai Star)

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Water town

History: A map of the starting point of the former foreign concessions.[Photo by Lu ping/Shanghai Star]

Changning Riverside

There is a 5-km stretch of waterfront by Suzhou Creek in Changning district on Changning Road from the intersection of Hami Road to Jiangsu Road. It has become a popular place to take a walk and sunbathe on the lawn.

There is an overpass at the intersection of Changning Road and Gubei Road for people to enjoy the view of the creek and a 3-km plastic runway on both sides of Changning Road, which attracts people of all ages, Chinese and expat.

"Jogging on the two sides gives a different feeling because the north side is next to the creek, and the south side is adjacent to the residential highrises, which is like jogging in the jungle," says Xiao Xu, a 27-year-old woman who lives nearby.

The riverside used to be completely different. Dozens of textile mills, chemical plants and machine manufacturing factories were set up along the creek in the 1920s. They brought industrialization but also pollution. From the 1930s the creek could no longer be used as a source for tap water, and no living fish or shrimp could be found.

"Suzhou Creek in my memory is dark and smelly. I used to go to the riverbank to watch the sewage disposal running out from the chemical plants when I was a little girl. We didn’t know it was pollution. We thought it was a red waterfall," says Huang Qi, a 57-year-old Shanghai resident.

"So the residential houses along the creek were unpopular, and only migrants with low incomes would live in that area," she says.

However, things have changed. The plants were closed and turned into riverside parks and the apartments in the new highrises, especially those facing the creek, are much sought after.