'Cultural oasis' planned for historic Beizhan

New museums, memorials and art galleries to celebrate the area's rich past.

Local officials plan to build a “cultural oasis” comprised of new museums, memorials and art galleries in the historic Beizhan area of Jing’an District over the coming three years.

The area is home to numerous historic locations. Beizhan was the site of China’s first railway station, as well as the country’s first locally-run silk reeling plant and modern chamber of commerce. Such institutions and their significance to the city will be explored in a new museum planned for the area.

Also planned is a memorial to famed flower-and-bird artist Wu Changshuo (1844-1927). Beizhan is home to Wu’s former residence, where he spent his final years and completed his last orchid painting.

A new Peking Opera experience center, a bike culture exhibition center and a museum dedicated to lianhuanhua, palm-sized picture books, are among other projects on the agenda.

“Beizhan is the birthplace of lianhuanhua, and it’s important to offer the public, especially children, access to lianhuanhua,” said Fan Shengfu, a lianhuanhua artist.

The area is also home to numerous architectural treasures, including some of Shanghai’s oldest shikumen neighborhoods. There are also Spanish-style townhouses, colonial buildings and garden villas featuring both Western and Eastern characteristics.

This historic area of Jing’an District takes its name from the former Shanghai North Railway Station, known in Chinese as lao beizhan. The four-story Western-style station was put into use in 1909 on Tianmu Road E. It was closed in 1987.

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