Key waterways elevate city to global standard
Shanghai aims to distinguish itself with its key waterways to rank alongside the world's other top metropolises, such as London, Paris, Sydney and San Francisco.
The Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, both collectively known as the "mother river" of Shanghai, are set to become demonstrations of how a megacity can achieve quality development and life and social governance simultaneously, city officials announced.
Both the river and creek have finished massive clean-up campaigns, opened up their waterfront regions stretching for over 40 kilometers, separately, and will even launch cruise services soon to attract tourists and residents.
Dozens of reporters from domestic and foreign media were invited to embark on the creek cruise ship ahead of World Cities Day, which falls on October 31, to learn the history of the city's waterway treatment and experience a new tourism attraction, which is said to be on par with the Shanghai Disney Resort and the Haichang Ocean Park.
"The river and creek bear the profound history and culture of Shanghai and are witnesses to the city's development," said Zhu Jianhao, deputy director of the city's housing and construction management commission.
The creek is a 125-kilometer waterway that originates in Taihu Lake in neighboring Jiangsu Province and winds through the cities of Suzhou, Kunshan and Shanghai before finally emptying into the Huangpu River.
Since Shanghai opened its port in 1843, the creek has been the backdrop for dramatic landmarks in the city's history. It was the scene of wartime suffering and the birthplace of China's earliest national industries.
Projects for cleaning up the pollution and redeveloping its banks have been under way since 1998 after its industrial heritage had left the creek's water murky by the end of 1970s, said Ruan Renliang, deputy director of the Shanghai Water Authority.
"Now, no murky water can be found along the main stream or tributaries of the creek, which had accommodated 45 species of fish by 2019, compared to only five in 2004."
The great improvement owes to the efforts of over 2,000 volunteers in 30 teams who patrol along the creek to protect its environment, Ruan revealed.
Riverside development of the creek, spanning 42 kilometers, involves the districts of Huangpu, Hongkou, Jing'an, Putuo, Changning and Jiading. Each now presents unique waterfront attractions, such as modern, international, Shanghai-style, historical and fashion.
"If the waterfront area of the creek has become the 'backyard garden' of local citizens, the Huangpu River waterfront, which is already connected and open, serves as the 'reception room'," said Zhu.
The Huangpu River once served as a major shipping and transport hub with warehouses, wharves and factories. Over time, most were abandoned and left to decay. Old housing in the area became derelict.
Urban redevelopment is transforming the waterfront regions into eco-friendly areas of craft shops, cafes, art studios, recreation grounds and sightseeing opportunities. Historic landmarks in the area are being protected and renovated,
Riverfront walkways and greenbelts, stretching for 45 kilometers between the Yangpu and Xupu bridges, feature walking, running and cycling paths, flanked by historical monuments and popular scenic views.
The entire project has been compared with the Left Bank of Paris or the Thames walkway in London.
Zhu pointed out that more than 70 service stations are being developed along the riverside paths to further improve the experience of residents and tourists.
To highlight the creek's renewal, the Suzhou Creek cruise services will gradually open to the public soon, according to Zhang Qi, deputy director of the Shanghai Culture and Tourism Administration.
Eight new docks will be completed by the end of 2022 near local landmarks such as the Bund and World War II relic Sihang Warehouse.
Additional docks will be built along the creek and the cruise routes will also be optimized for the convenience of visitors.
There are over 200 tourism and historical attractions along the creek, featuring the footprints of the city's century-old industries as well as finance and trade sectors, Zhang observed.
The cruise service, which has been under test operation since September 17, will feature two routes and boat types to begin with.
Visitors can choose a one-hour tour along the entire downtown section of the creek, or a 15-minute cruise from Sihang Warehouse to the Bund.
In the next step, the Huangpu River waterfront region will be further expanded from Xupu Bridge to Minhang District. Some remaining downtown disruptions along the river, such as Gongqing Forest Park and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, both in Yangpu District, will open up by the end of the year.
Some new attractions will also open soon. They include the WorldSkills Museum in Yangpu, Xiepu Road industrial relics in the Pudong New Area, and the Star Museum on the West Bund in Xuhui District.
An ancient vessel museum will be built at the former Shanghai Shipyard in Yangpu to display a wooden vessel, dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and found sunken in the Yangtze River Estuary.