Adieu, Shanghai's iconic underground shopping center!
The underground Hong Kong Shopping Center at People's Square, one of the oldest and longest underground marts in Shanghai, closed today when its lease expired.
The nearby D Mall, also underground and often confused with the shopping center, remains open.
Both venues opened in 1995 near the People's Square Metro station, about two years after the city's first Metro Line 1 opened. Now the city has 18 lines in operation, with a daily ridership of over 10 million people on an average workday.
"I saw on social media that this place is closing so we came all the way from Minhang District just to commemorate our first date," said Liang Qin.
Now in his early 40s, Liang visited the underground mart with his former high school girlfriend, now his wife, and their two children.
"It's so nostalgic! We used to date here after school and ran into classmates who also came here to date. We still came back a few times on anniversaries while in our 30s, but then we sort of forgot this place. I didn't even know it remained open all these years!" he said.
For Liang's generation, the two underground malls were among the coolest places in the city back then, when Hong Kong in a venue's name implied that it was fashionable and chic. It was where many took their first purikura (a Japanese sticker photo booth) pictures, had their first date, got their first ear piercing, and bought their first accessories.
Over nearly three decades, the mall has changed dramatically, leaving few spots that Liang and his wife would recognize. It constantly updated to catch up with the city's ever-changing youth culture.
"The previous shop owner who sold boutique clothes told me she was losing business to online vendors and couldn't afford the rent anymore," a shop owner surnamed Chen told Shanghai Daily.
"That was around eight years ago, and I started by selling Japanese animation merchandise and expanded into other related stuff. Business was good and there are lots of gatherings by different ACG groups on weekends, even last weekend as many heard that the place is closing."
Chen is moving to the nearby D Mall as are others in the underground shopping center.
ACG, or animation, comic and games, has become a collective memory of this mart for those born after 1995, including 17-year-old Kiki Feng, who visited the underground venue for the last time with her cosplay friends.
"For us, this is a street of three things that dry up your wallet, we jokingly call this the 'three deep hole bankrupt street'," she explained, "The three deep holes are a Lolita dress, JK school girl uniform and hanfu (traditional Han costume), which all cost a fortune if you are really into them. I'm personally very into Lolita dresses."
The high school senior wore her Lolita dress, a type of fashion highly influenced by Victorian clothing and styles from the Rococo period. She also brought some Lolita-style accessories and game-related merchandise, hoping to exchange them with others who share her interests.
Many teenagers and young adults gathered at the mart in its last few days to sell or exchange merchandise.
A few other underground commercial streets in Shanghai
1. Pacific Fresh City 太平洋森活天地
The nearly 500-meter-long street is one of the largest underground commercial shopping malls in the city. There are many snack bars and various stores selling flowers, clothes and art toys. A youth space with a bar, gym and a barber shop is famous on the street. Irregular activities are held there, such as bazaars, performances and competitions.
Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Address: B1, 199 Songhu Road, Yangpu District 杨浦区淞沪路199号B1层
How to get there: Take Metro Line 10 and get off at Jiangwan Stadium Station (江湾体育场站). There are two entrances at the station near exits 1 and 3.
2. City Mart 城市集市·里弄
A longtang (lane) of old Shanghai has been reproduced in this underground food street, with artificial bookstalls, hairdressers and flower stands. Visitors can try many traditional snacks of the city, such as congyoubing (scallion pancakes 葱油饼), pork chops with rice cake and shengjianbao (pan-fried pork buns 生煎包).
Opening hours: 10am-9:30pm
Address: B2, 999, Dongdaming Road, Hongkou District 虹口区东大名路999号B2层
How to get there: Take Metro Line 12 to Tilanqiao Station (提篮桥站) and walk about 510 meters from Exit 2.
3. Tianshan Market 天山夜市
The 5,300-square-meter block is scheduled to open in July with izakaya, roast meat shops and Southeast Asian buffets and remain open 24 hours, a person in charge of the market said in a recent report by Shanghai Media Group. Some stores have already opened, including a nail salon, a bakery and a coffee shop.
Opening hours: 24 hours from July
Address: B1, 1111, Tianshan Road, Changning District 长宁区天山路1111号B1层
How to get there:
1) Before the Metro station closes around 11:45pm, riders can take Line 2 to Loushanguan Road Station (娄山关路站). The market is near Exit 2.
2) After 11:45pm, the market can be accessed through a tunnel near the crossing between Tianshan Road and Zunyi Road.