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

Hongkew Park Old and New

Posted: February 14th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Recently I came across two old postcards of Hongkew (Hongkou) Park which was, technically speaking, just outside the northern boundaries of the International Settlement in Hongkou but still considered a largely foreign park.Below those postcards plus some history of the park, now renamed Lu Xun Park. I took a stroll over to the park recently and some pics of the same area today.

In 1896 the Bureau of Construction of the Shanghai International Settlement purchased 39 acres of rural land at the end of Sichuan Road North, just outside the Settlement’s boundary, and built a shooting field for the Municipal Rifle Range which was mostly used by the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. In 1905, the park was rebuilt as the Hongkew Sports Games Park and Shooting Field apparently modelled on a park in Glasgow and with the addition of a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, extensive playing fields and a bowling green. It was then renamed as simply Hongkew Park in 1922.

The Park was famously the scene of an explosion in 1932 when the Korean patriot and anti-Japanese resistance activist Yoon Bong-gil threw a bomb during a Japanese celebration for the birthday of Emperor Hirohito. The bomb blast destroyed the bandstand and instantly killed two Japanese officials, Yoshinori Shirakawa, a Japanese Imperial Army general, and Kawabata Sadaji, the Government Chancellor of Japanese residents in Shanghai. Adjoining the Park was the Mei Ren Company’s factory, one of Shanghai’s best-known makers of mah-jong tiles. The Park was also close to the Scott Road area that was best known for its numerous low-end brothels – the “trenches” – and so a little after dark frolicking was perhaps inevitable.

Well, the park has changed its name in honour of the writer Lu Xun and of course the landscaping has changed dramatically in the intervening decades with some bits lopped off, unsurprisingly, to the property developers and a chunk lost to construct the Hongkou Stadium. Anyway, a reduced version of the lawns above still exist and the manmade lake, seen in the picture immediately above, is still there too. The lawns as they are now as below, the second picture shows the encroachment of the stadium:

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2 Comments on “Hongkew Park Old and New”

  1. 1 Wayne Xing said at 6:25 am on January 14th, 2021:

    Dear Sir/Madame: I am writing a history of early golf in China from 1870-1950. I need permission of the writer of this article to use the photos/postcards for my writing, which will be put in a book in Chinese and English. Let me know if this is possible and I would appreciate to know the name of the author of this posting. Thank you!
    Wayne Xing
    Amherst, MA, USA

  2. 2 Paul French said at 7:50 pm on January 18th, 2021:

    Best to speak to George Godula at morfba.org – i think he has an original

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