The Dance Trip to Shanghai (2) – Tianzifang 上海舞蹈之旅(2) – 田子坊none
The 2nd day journey, I got some free time in the afternoon and took some visits. Longtang is the construction that I am most interested in and so I visited three Longtangs. Under the evolution of time, the three Longtangs have come out of different fates.
Longing is a traditional community composed of alleys in Shanghai, just like Hutong of Beijing, or Tonglau in Hong Kong. It is the major residential area of Shanghainese, as well as the culture from the late 19th century to late 20th century. With the development of the society, Shanghai now is full of high buildings and many Longtangs have been rebuilt.
The three Longtangs I visited were Tianzifang, Xintiandi and Cite Bourgogne. Today I will talk about Tianzifang. Tianzifang is located at Taking Road, Huangpu Districk, just next to the Dapuqiao Station. Tianzifang was built in around 1930, in the French Concession. It is a residential area for the ordinary Shanghai residents. The Chinese style living culture, coupled with a little Western style architectural style, had gradually formed a unique style. In the late 1990s, a group of artists began to live in Taking Road, and later different cultural shops and studio joined also, reforming Takang Road to be a new cultural and art district.
Floormap of Tianzifang
According to my friend, the government had taken a fancy to this place and transformed the Road to a new creative industrial zone at around 2000. The name of Tianzifang is taken from the name of Tian Zifang, the oldest painter of China mentioned in the 《Records of the Grand Historian》, which symbolises the long-term development of the art zone. Today, Tianzifand is one of the most famous tourist point in Shanghai.
As a tourist, I already wanted to leave when I just entered Tianzifang. it’s because there were too many people!Tianzifang is full of narrow alleys. On both sides of the alley were two-to-three storey buildings. Most shops are at the ground floor and some are upstairs. The most popular store in Tianzifang should be restaurants and souvenirs shops.
And artists? I couldn’t find it. maybe they are hiding upstairs. But I didn’t think they can focus on work at the place which is so crowded and noisy. According to my friend, after the government participated in the development of Tianzifang, the artists couldn’t stand for the high rent and left. I don’t know it’s real or not.
The most interesting in Tianzifang is the feeling of finding what is waiting for you in the next alley. They are too many short alley and you will never what is waiting for you. Of course, I was not interested in those little souvenirs. What I was most interested was the board of “commonly used Wu Chinese” (dialect of Shanghai). If there is chance, I also want to hang some board of “Commonly used Cantonese” in Hong Kong!
Most people may take an hour of two to walk through Tianzifang. But I left after 30 minutes as I am really afraid of crowded place. Before leaving, I saw a mural depicting the life of the old Shanghainese in Tianzifang.
Tianzifang is a better development for Shanghai Longtang. At least it is reserved and now plays another function. In the next post, I will visit Cite Bourgogne, another alley with a different fate from Tianzifang.
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