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The Guomindang’s New City

June 2, 2011

Last weekend, my friend Liza, who is a graduate student studying material culture and Republican China, and I went to visit the Guomindang’s “new city” in northern Shanghai. I will admit that a Time Out Shanghai treasure map inspired this journey but it was actually a great trip. In the 1930s, the GMD government created a new city in northern Shanghai (Yangpu district) as a way of breaking away from the foreigners and the decadence in the concessions and central Shanghai. Today the closest landmark is Fudan University but the walk begins about 20 minutes walk away from the campus near subway line 8 stop Xiangyin Rd (翔殷路). Some of these buildings were built only months before the Japanese invasion and all but one building, the old Shanghai Library, is still used today in some capacity. It was great to see these historical buildings and to see a part of Shanghai (and Shanghainese history) that not many foreigners see.

The old Shanghai Museum, exterior

Foyer of the old Shanghai Museum, now a hospital waiting room

Chandelier on the second floor

The first stop on the walk was to the old Shanghai Museum, above. The building, which was built the mid-1930s and designed by Dong Dayou, is now used as an imaging center for a hospital. We walked inside to see the older decorative touches still in place, albeit freshly painted, and a large antique chandelier. I wonder what exactly the old Shanghai Museum had inside it and if there is any overlap with what is inside the current museum? Also, can you imagine waiting for a MRI in that hall?

Former Chinese Second Airforce academy, exterior

Within the same hospital grounds is the Second/#2 Airforce Academy. The building wasn’t open to visitors but the plane motif on the front gate was great – the building was laid out like an airplane as well! Liza thought that the top of the building was a reference to the Temple of Heaven.

Next up was the old seat of the Guomindang government, which is now used as the main administrative building for the Shanghai Sports University. The exterior of the building was incredible and I loved the garden around the building. It was really refreshing to see an old building that was well taken care of but not turned into a tourist attraction or fancy apartment building…




The very heavy doors above led us inside and we walked to the center of the building, which has a stone map of Shanghai set into the floor:


I apologize for the poor quality images as it was quite dark inside the building itself but the above image shows a mark of where the GMD government seat is on the map of Shanghai. Am I the only one who is struck by how similar this mark is to the symbol used to represent Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle? WEIRD OCCULT SYMBOLISM???

Beautiful chandelier and ceiling detail from inside the old government seat.

The next stop was to see the old Shanghai Library. Unfortunately, the building is fenced in and is falling down. I am relieved it hasn’t been torn down as it is an amazing artifact – look at the Maoist slogans still visible on the facade! – but I wish someone was taking care of it because it is an incredible building.



The last two stops were a church that was built in the 1930s in Luwan but moved to Yangpu in 1997 and Jiangwan Stadium.


I love that all of the streets near these buildings still have government related names, like the one above which is called 政立路 (zhengli lu), “government position” road.

Swimming pool in the Jiangwan Stadium complex.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 2, 2011 11:21 pm

    Wow I would love to go. These are some breathtaking sights especially inside that old Shanghai Museum and then the library. WOW.

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