“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Coming Down Alert – Hongkou’s White Horse Inn

Posted: October 19th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

jolly rogerI posted some time ago that the site of the old White Horse Inn was among a number of buildings inside Shanghai’s former Jewish district in Hongkou likely to be knocked down to make way for (wait for it!) a widened road. Well it happened while I was away on holiday (not that the two events are probably linked) and the White Horse is gone in the name of progress and the nonsense EXPO slogan ‘Better City, Better Life’. A friend, Dvir Bar-gal, who has done a lot to raise awareness of Shanghai’s Jewish heritage and ghetto, chronicled the end and photographed it as below:

IMG_9009“While China and Shanghai celebrating the 60 years “Party of the Party” the much-talked-about historical
building of the White Horse Cafe at the former Little Vienna of Shanghai AKA Shanghai’s [Jewish] ghetto was taken from
us.

IMG_9461 To those of you whom may not have read or heard the story: The White Horse was located in one of the nicer historical buildings along the former Ward Road. The White Horse Cafe was owned by the Mosberg/Klinger family (now residing in Sydney) and was one of the famous and lively cafes of Shanghai’s “little Vienna” in the early 1940s.

IMG_9016In early 2009 the Hongkou District government decided to widen the street that was home to this building along with many other historical buildings that were marked to be destroyed. With the hope to preserve these historical sites I contacted few members of the foreign press in Shanghai/China. NPR’s Louisa Lim brought to the area Prof. Ruan Yi Shan from TongJi Univ. that offered in the past the plans for preservation  of that area.While the story about the Historical cafe facing demolition made news in the US Radio,  Prof. Ruan pitched the story to some of his friends at the local newspapers whom as well ran the story and made public to the issue.

IMG_9589In the past 6 months it seemed that the local authorities would stop the demolition. Rumors said that the Hongkou government officials had positively considered Prof. Ruan’s various offers to preserve / relocate the building. However, sad to inform you that while most of us took the time off for the National Vacation the Bulldozers went on the building. In Oct. 2nd the head (roof) of the building was hammered down, next the covering bamboo scaffolds were removed and the final kill came yesterday Oct. 6th. Last picture attached was taken today Oct. 7th.”

White Horse Inn - ShanghaiSo RIP to another part of Shanghai’s heritage and a great building! The destruction continues unabated and in remorseless fashion – left is a picture of the White Horse Cafe in its heyday.

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3 Comments on “Coming Down Alert – Hongkou’s White Horse Inn”

  1. 1 gregorylent said at 3:00 pm on October 19th, 2009:

    exactly like our lives, the past is gone gone gone

  2. 2 gregorylent said at 7:03 pm on October 19th, 2009:

    exactly like our lives, the past is gone gone gone
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  3. 3 Ross Cranwell said at 2:29 pm on October 21st, 2009:

    A real pity and something I think all of us in shanghai have come familiar with.in some cases I understand where old buildings have to go, but in maNy cased it is really disappointing.I pass by maoming Lu/Nanjing Lu most days and half of that amazing street is also due to go. Very sad.


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