Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

Lu Feiran
Metro Line 1 was the first put into operation. Along the line, the history of the city unfolds in parks, residences of former luminaries and elegant old neighborhoods.
Lu Feiran

Metro Line 1, as its name suggests, was the first put into operation. It connects the northeastern and southwestern parts of Shanghai, from Baoshan to Minhang, and runs through the very heart of the city. Along the line, the history of the city unfolds in parks, residences of former luminaries and elegant old neighborhoods. It is also the gateway to Shanghai’s first theme park and first botanical garden. Here are some of the highlights along Metro Line 1:

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

Shaanxi Road S. Station:

The Shanghai Science Hall and Fuxing Park

Technically, the Shanghai Science Hall isn’t considered a sightseeing spot. It’s a conference venue owned by the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in and sneak some snaps.

The two-story building was originally a French-style villa with a large garden, completed in 1926. It first served as a French school, changing to its current purpose in 1958. Chen Yi, the first mayor of Shanghai after the People’s Republic of China was established, wrote the inscription “ke xue hui tang” (science hall) for the site.

On a typical afternoon, entering the building feels like walking into a European palace. Lattice windows cast light and shadows along a long corridor. The walls are filled with old black-and-white photos of historical events.

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line
Lu Feiran / SHINE

The stained-glass windows in the Shanghai Science Hall.

The corridor leads to the main hall of the villa, where a huge stained-glass window covers an entire wall. On a sunny day, the yellows and greens of the window are reflected on a polished wood floor, creating a dreamy view.

Most of the rooms in the villa have been modified into conference rooms, but small meeting spaces in hallways are more impressive than the grand halls.

In some of those spaces, Chinese-style decorations, such as lanterns, inscribed boards and screens, mix with Western-style sofas and carpets. It is a harmony of opposites.

Roaming around the villa, you might be stopped by security guards, but they are usually quite understanding of curiosity about the venue. If you ask them nicely, they usually allow you to linger.

Adjacent to the building is Fuxing Park, one of the earliest in Shanghai. Built around a century ago on a barracks site, it is one of the best preserved French-style gardens in China.

A grand sunken flower bed with a fountain dominates the park. A monument to René Vallon, a French pilot who died in an aerobatic flight over Shanghai in 1911, was removed in the 1950s.

The garden has been modified and expanded over the years to become something more than just a French garden. A Chinese-style pond and rockeries have been added, and a statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels erected in 1985 has become another icon of the park.

Shanghai Science Hall
Address: 47 Nanchang Rd

Fuxing Park (Yandang Road Gate)
Address: 105 Yandang Rd

• Where to grab a bite nearby:

The Mingcheng Noodle with Yellow Croaker, a small eatery, is next to the Yandang Road Gate of Fuxing Park. It is always packed with people during meal times. Top of the menu is a bowl of yellow croaker noodle soup. The flavor of the wild fish melts into the milky white soup, with bites of soft, tender flesh. Other menu favorites are spicy pork noodle soup and noodle soup with sliced chicken.

Address: 99 Yandang Rd.

Xujiahui Station:

St Ignatius Cathedral and Guangqi Park

The Xujiahui area is known for its bustling shopping malls, but it also holds part of the city’s history. The cathedral and park date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).Better known as Xujiahui Cathedral, the Gothic-style St. Ignatius Cathedral has been called the “largest church in the Far East.” Its red-brick façade and the two soaring pinnacles make it a landmark of the area.

In 2017, the cathedral reopened to the public after four years of renovation. The stained-glass windows and gargoyles on the eaves have all been returned to their original look.

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

Interior of St Ignatius Cathedral

North of the cathedral is Guangqi Park, which is home to the tomb of Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), a scientist and Catholic convert during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His tomb was moved to its current location in 1903 by the local parish. After sustaining serious damage, the tomb was restored in 2003 to its original look.

The tomb reflects both traditional Ming and classic Roman Catholic styles. The path leading to the tomb is flanked by sculptures of mythical creatures and statues of officials. A giant white cross sits atop the tomb.

St Ignatius Cathedral
Address: 158 Puxi Rd

Guangqi Park
Address: 17 Nandan Rd

• Where to grab a bite nearby:

Among dining options in Xujiahui area, a vegetarian restaurant there is highly praised online.

Dashu Wujie, a typical “new age” restaurant popular among millennials, provides vegan dishes of Chinese, American, Southeastern Asian and Japanese cuisines.

The most recommended dish on the menu is lotus root cake. It’s stuffed with a mushroom filling that tastes like meat but fresher. The oolong tea served here is also recommended.

Address: 392 Tianping Rd

Changshu Road Station:

Former residences of luminaries

The area around the Changshu Road Station is full of “Old Shanghai.” Century-old lanes are dotted with Western-style houses and villas that once housed famous writers, actors, artists and dignitaries. Many of the residences are still occupied.

Guanghua Lane on Julu Road has one villa hiding inside the lane. The salmon-colored brick house was the former residence of actress Hu Die (1908-89). She lived there for a year in 1932 before getting married and moving elsewhere. Her fame at the time was enough to attract fans to pay a visit. The house has been redecorated by its current owner, and its look has changed a lot.

A 15-minute walk from the station takes you to the former residence of Ba Jin on Wukang Road. The writer, one of the most significant literary figures of modern China, lived there for more than 40 years until his death in 2005. He was a master of chronicling changes in society in the early 20th century.

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

Former residence of Ba Jin

A decade ago, Ba’s family modified the house into a small museum housing the writer’s books, letters, papers and household furnishings. Trees and flowers planted by Ba still grow in the garden outside.

It’s a pity that the museum doesn’t allow photography inside.

Other notable former residences in the area include the homes of educator Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940) and journalist and writer Ke Ling (1909-2000). Some of the homes are open to the public.

Former residence of Hu Die
Address: No 13, 786 Julu Rd

Former residence of Ba Jin
Address: 113 Wukang Rd

Former residence of Cai Yuanpei
Address: No. 16, 303 Huashan Rd

Former residence of Ke Ling
Address: Room 203, 147 Fuxing Rd W.

• Where to grab a bite nearby:

Changshu Road Station lies in one of the busiest areas of Shanghai, providing endless choices for dining — from Chinese, Japanese and French cuisine to Italian and even Turkish.

One of the most highly praised eateries serving traditional Shanghai cuisine is Maodou Ayi Restaurant. Located in a villa near the station, the 20-year-old restaurant has never changed the traditional flavor of its dishes. A prized specialty is smoked fish. Using silver pout, a member of the cod family, instead of traditional black carp, the restaurant gives the smoked fish an authentic Shanghai flavor with a more tender texture and more delicate taste.

Address: 115 Changshu Rd

Shanghai South Railway Station:

Shanghai Botanical Garden

As the first botanical garden in the city, the 39-year-old park has not lost its charm. Every year, the spring and autumn flower expositions there attract tens of thousands of people from all over the country. The garden is now holding an exhibition of tropical pitcher plants, or nepenthes, that will end on Saturday.

Address: 997 Longwu Rd

Jinjiang Park Station:

Jinjiang Park

As the first theme park in Shanghai, Jinjiang Park is in the memory book of many Shanghai locals who experienced their very first rides on a rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. The park nowadays has lost much of its uniqueness as newer, larger and more exciting competitors opened in the city, but it still attracts people with special events such as food festivals held every summer.

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

The rollercoaster at Jinjiang Park

Address: 201 Hongmei Rd

• Where to grab a bite nearby:

Both Jinjiang Park and Shanghai Botanical Garden have their own restaurants, which are good though a bit pricey.

Jinjiang Park has two restaurants, one serving Chinese cuisine and the other serving Western-style food. The Ferris Wheel Restaurant, as its name indicates, uses Ferris wheel cars. On festivals and holidays, the restaurant stays open until midnight so that diners can enjoy the night view from high above.

Meanwhile, the restaurant in the botanical garden is a family establishment. It serves roundtable meals with seafood, dim sum and hotpots.

Shanghai Circus World Station:

Daning Lingshi Park

This park, only 14 years old, is the largest greenery area in Puxi. The park is busiest every March, when vast beds of tulips come into full bloom. More than 2 million tulips in 60 varieties, all introduced from the Netherlands, dress the park in a colorful sea as the city welcomes early spring.

Going off track for outings on city's first Metro line

The blooming tulips at Daning Lingshi Park

Address: 288 Guangzhong Rd W.

• Where to grab a bite nearby:

The two parks are actually quite close to each other, and there are many eating options in the Daning Area.

If you don’t really want a formal meal and don’t mind a few calories, a street snack bar called Pengpu No. 1 Deep Fried Chicken is just the ticket. It originated from a night fair stall on Wenxi Road in the Pengpu area. After the road was renovated and the night fair removed, the snack bar moved and developed into a chain.

Apart from chicken, vegetables, pork and rice cake are also on the menu, all deep-fried and served with seasoning. An occasional indulgence never hurts anyone.

Address: 150 Yanchang Rd

Yanchang Road Station:

Zhabei Park

The origin of the park is actually the grave of Song Jiaoren (1883-1913), a revolutionist who was assassinated after leading the Kuomintang to a win in a national election.

In 1946, the Shanghai government decided to renovate the grave and open it as a park.

A corner of the park is devoted to Chinese tea ceremony culture. A statue of Lu Yu (AD 733-804) commemorates the “Tea Saint,” an ancient master who dedicated his entire life to studying tea and its culture.

Address: 1555 Gonghexin Rd

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