Cameras roll on Jing'an history

Li Qian
Three documentaries will tell the stories behind Zhangyuan, Julu Road and Changde Road in the district, featuring their landmark buildings and the personalities who lived there.
Li Qian

Three documentary programs telling the stories behind Jing'an District's historical sites and cultural landmarks has begun filming, according to the district’s cultural authority.

They will feature the personalities who have lived in Zhangyuan, one of the city’s best-preserved historical communities, reveal a bygone city of pioneering scholars and renowned writers on Julu Road, and Changde Road known for its connection with legendary Shanghai author Eileen Chang.

Bounded by Weihai Road to the south and Wujiang Road to the north, Zhangyuan has 174 historical buildings in different styles, from typical shikumen to western villas. Currently, it is undergoing a commercial makeover.

It dates back to 1872 when a British merchant bought the area to build garden villas. But it earned fame after Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Shuhe took over the area in 1882 and turned it into the city’s most popular public gathering place, where the city’s first electric light bulbs glowed amid some of Shanghai’s first public entertainment venues. In 1919, it was turned into private residences.

Julu Road is a place of Shanghai literacy.

It holds the "Garden of Psyche,” which now houses the office of the Shanghai Writers Association. The Greek-style house, featuring a fountain, lawn and a 1.5-meter-tall white marble statue of Psyche, was designed by esteemed architect Laszlo Hudec as mansion for tycoon Liu Jisheng.

The road was also home to China’s greatest comic artist He Youzhi, Chinese painting master Zhu Qizhan, legendary poet Xu Zhimo and his wife Lu Xiaoman, among other renowned cultural figures. Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore once lived there.

Changde Road has the famous Changde Apartment, a fine example of Art Deco in the city where Eileen Chang (1920-1995) lived for more than six years.

One of the most renowned female writers in China, she flitted from place to place all her life. But the apartment, known as Eddington House in her day, was undoubtedly one of her favorite stopping points.

During her stay in the apartment, she finished some of her most famous, semi-autobiographical novels. They include “The Golden Cangue,” which illustrates the decadence of the idle rich; “Love in a Fallen City,” a collection of stories set in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the 1930s and 40s; and “Sealed Off,” the story of two strangers stranded briefly on a stalled tramcar in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation.

In March, two documentaries on the history and culture of the district's Shaanxi Road N. and Jiangning Road were screened on Shanghai TV.

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