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

The Destruction of Love Lane is now Complete and Irreversible

Posted: January 25th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Shanghai urban planners, retail property giants and assorted other property developers have finally got what they’ve wanted for a long time – the total destruction of Wujiang Road (the former Love Lane). The eastern end of the street is now cleared of all its former buildings that included the old St Anna Ballroom, Van’s Dutch Inn and other once famous locations – I’ve covered the pre-1949 history of Love Lane here previously.

Even Love Lane’s later post-1949 incarnation as a food street was deemed unacceptable to the Shanghai authorities who, despite the popularity of night markets in pre-1949 Shanghai and still today in Taiwan where crowds surge every evening at places like Shilin Market for snacks and traditional foods, have deemed that all traditional food will be dfriven out of the city centre. Several years ago the slightly less interesting western end of the street was cleared and has become a street of 100% junk food outlets – if your sort of cultural experience requires names such as Krispy Kreme, Carls Jnr or Yoshinoya then Wujiang Road is for you.

The eastern end clung stubbornly on selling cheap traditional snacks – it was invariably packed at lunch times and early evenings but was too ‘uncivilised’ for the urban planners who deemed it necessary to ‘harmonise’ Wujiang Road. What will replace the once roomy and elegant structures that lined the eastern end of the street and also fronted onto Nanjing Road West (Bubbling Well Road)? We can expect a high rise or two and yet more junk food restaurants so that the whole street becomes a harmonised horror of generic, bland, corporate food shops.

So long Love Lane…it was great to know you, even in your dotage….

Love Lane itself now cleared for ‘harmionisation’

Here you see the total removal of the frontages onto Nanjing Road West – all scarified to the Gods of Retail Property Prices

The perspective now looking east from Nanjing West Road at the junction with Shimen No.1 Road – in my humble opinion, not a vast improvement!

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5 Comments on “The Destruction of Love Lane is now Complete and Irreversible”

  1. 1 SalmonFish said at 4:44 pm on January 25th, 2011:

    Even wheeling a bike on the harmonious Wujiang Lu is not allowed. Its funny to see the security hopping up and down if you try it though.

  2. 2 Paul French said at 5:12 pm on January 25th, 2011:

    that of course is also true in that other dreadful place Xintiandi where the ban the bike patrol actually have jackets with ‘bike patrol’ written on them. Apparently ownership of a bicycle in some way insults the massed rank of junk food chains! Any way these people really should all buy cars!

  3. 3 Cameron Wilson said at 11:19 am on January 26th, 2011:

    A sad development for Shanghai culture. But good to see someone highlighting the folly of clearing a bustling food street so that more McDonalds and Starbucks can be built.

    The cultural revolution never ends.

  4. 4 ScottLoar said at 9:33 am on January 28th, 2011:

    Not McDonalds or Starbucks, the bogeyman is the culture itself demanding that it all be new, big and flashy, and the attitude common among Chinese “that piece of land is so-o-o-o valuable” ( 那塊土地很值錢).

  5. 5 JFB said at 5:15 pm on April 28th, 2011:

    They recently shut down Shimen No. 1 Road. It’ll be closed for two months due to construction for the extension of Line 13. I remember walking down the old section of Wujiang Road in 2009, and with the area as it is today, it’s hard to even believe that once existed where it did. Any idea what the huge mansion that’s been saved from demolition at the south end of the block (fronting Weihai Road) used to be?


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