Historic Astor hotel to become finance exhibition center

The Shanghai Stock Exchange signed a leasing contract Friday with the Shanghai Hengshan (Group) Corp to turn the historic Astor House Hotel into an exhibition and training center.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Shanghai's historic Astor House Hotel near the Bund.

Shanghai's historic Astor House Hotel near the Bund will close from Monday and become an exhibition and education base highlighting China's capital market.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange signed a leasing contract on Friday with Shanghai Hengshan (Group) Corp, owner of the hotel, also known in Mandarin as Pujiang Hotel. The exhibitions and training center will open to the public in 2018.

Management of the hotel told Shanghai Daily earlier this week that the hotel's banquet hall, cafe and all 116 rooms will be closed from January 1. A room reservation hotline also confirmed that the hotel was to undergo renovations and that rooms were available only till the end of this month.

A series of exhibitions on the development of China's capital market will be held in the century-old hotel, where the Shanghai stock exchange came into existence in 1990, the exchange said. 

It will also be converted into a stock investor training and cultural exchange center of the stock exchange.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The lobby of the historic Astor House Hotel, which will operate till the end of the month.

"The hotel symbolizes the memory of an era and witnessed the birth and development of China's capital market after China's Reform and Opening Up," said Wu Qing, chairman of the exchange.

The architectural appearance of the hotel will be retained, while the arrangement of future exhibitions will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of the local cultural heritage authority as well as experts, the exchange said.

The achievements of China's capital market since the Reform and Opening Up will be exhibited, along with a cultural exhibition about the stock exchanges of the Belt and Road countries. A "cultural corridor" about Shanghai's financial culture has also been planned.

The exchange will also establish a Shanghai Financial Cultural Development Foundation in the space to carry out cultural exchanges and social welfare activities.

Furthermore, the educational center will aim to promote finance and stock knowledge to investors, the exchange said.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The first gong of Shanghai Stock Exchange is currently kept as an exhibit in the hotel.

The exchange came into existence at the hotel on December 19, 1990. The trading center at the Peacock Hall, the main banquet hall, kick-started China's foray into the capital market. 

The first gong of China's stock exchange is still in the hotel, albeit as an exhibit. The exchange moved to its current site in Pudong New Area in 1997.

Astor House has a unique place in Shanghai's history – when it opened in 1846, it was the first Western hotel in China.

Rebuilt in 1912 in a neo-classical Baroque style, Astor House was one of the lavishest hotels in the city – and in the Far East – in the early 20th century. It was listed by the city government as a heritage architecture in 1999.

The hotel's claim to fame includes the city's first electric lamp, telephone and ballroom. Cai Jun, then head of Shanghai, threw the first grand party in the city at Astor House in 1897 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

It was also at the hotel that the founder of Shanghai's first taxi company Xiangsheng, now known as Qiangsheng, started his business. Zhou Xiangsheng (1895-1974), known as the "King of Taxi," served as a bellboy at the hotel.

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