Riverside rises from ashes of history
There aren’t many better ways to get a feel for the beating heart of the city than a weekend stroll along the Huangpu River promenade while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Along the 45 kilometers of river banks, a section passes through Yangpu that is as long as 15.5 kilometers and divided into the northern, central and southern segments.
The former site of the shipping yard, China’s earliest paper mill, cotton mill and water plant is surrounded by air filled with a strong industrial wind nowadays.
The river bank twists and turns to give way to a historical past and yet nurtures the future and birth of innovation. The 2.8 kilometers of public space to the west of Yangpu Bridge is now open.
Construction in 2018 will extend to the southern segment to complete a 5.5-kilometer waterfront path for cyclists and pedestrians.
A blueprint has been mapped to go through another 2.7 kilometers of riverside walkway to the west of Dinghai Bridge.
Much more improved facilities and services are expected to turn the place into a must-go area among travelers and time worthy for people to linger a while longer.
As part of the Binjiang Scenery Belt, which passes through five districts of Shanghai, Yangpu District has emphasized transforming its waterfront area into an ecological landscape.
Industrial relics, such as the cranes left at the former site of Shanghai Power Plant’s Yangpu Wharf, are part of the landscape and their functions have been converted into sight-seeing uses.
The narrow piece of land along the Huangpu River has been recognized as one of the cradles of China’s modern industry and once home to several of China’s earliest industries — many of them dating back over 100 years.
It is also considered to be the world’s largest riverside industrial belt by UNESCO experts and defined as a central activities district in the Shanghai Urban Master Plan (2016-2035).
The previously closed riverside industrial hub is now an open and shared waterfront with historical accumulation, intelligent management, and ecological friendliness.
A total of 66 historical buildings, mostly former factory houses, have been protected during the riverside development campaign. Some of these buildings will be turned into public space for entertaining and sports.
Preserving the industrial heritage
The district is surveying all of its historical buildings along the river to preserve valuable structures as well as to collect exhibits for the Shanghai Industry Museum.
Many historical items, machines and equipment have been discovered during the riverside development. They have been stored temporarily in a warehouse on Fuxing Island and will be exhibited to the public in the future museum.
The district government has invited experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences to evaluate the history, construction materials and former functions of every factory along the riverside.
Many historical structures that were initially due to be torn down for the development campaign have now been saved from the bulldozers.
Shanghai Minghua Sugar Plant built in 1913, for instance, will be restored to as it was before by using old photos and documents from the district archives.
The original plant had undergone a major renovation in 1960s with additional floors being built.
Public sports facilities, including gyms and fields, for ball games are also part of the blueprint.
Some of the preserved historic factory houses on the riverbank will be turned into public gymnasiums and indoor sports fields.
The Yangpu Sports Center, an indoor stadium with 3,000 seats near Yangpu Bridge, is being renovated amid the development of numerous public sports venues, including a bicycle training site and a rugby center.
As planned, the entire 5.5 kilometers of shoreline linking Shanghai International Fashion Center and Hongkou District will open to the public by the end of next year.
Moreover, around 2 million square meters of high-end business and commercial facilities will settle in the area.
It is part of Yangpu’s ambition to introduce innovative companies, institutions and organizations, as well as professionals of all trades to take part in its riverside development.
As the riverside area will become a future icon of Yangpu, it is going to be a future waterfront in the post-industrial era.
Its southern wing could be a well-developed area for creative immersion activities. People may exchange their views, work, and study or entertain at the place, which also integrates some urban functions such as education and healthcare.
Digital industry such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing will be developed in the northern wing while an open, borderless, R&D cooperation zone could be built between the two wings. All the research and innovation in the zone are for sharing.
Waterfront development in major cities around the world is usually divided into four stages. Initially, waterfront areas were usually trading ports, with the accumulation of fortune they were developed into financial centers, then a base of headquarters and finally, urban innovation hubs and Yangpu will join the others.