A Tour of the Shanghai Bund (上海外灘)

View of the Shanghai Bund from the top of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

View of the Shanghai Bund from the top of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The Shanghai Bund is the centerpiece of its namesake city, Shanghai – that most quintessential of all Treaty Ports in China, and one of the greatest city’s in recent history. It takes pride of place in the International Settlement, jointly administered by the British and the Americans.

Extending roughly a mile across the waterfront of the Huangpu River 黃浦江, the bund houses more than 50 different buildings from across the history of Shanghai’s colonial past.  On the waterfront – the Bund proper – the buildings date from the 1860s to 1948.  Most recently in 2010, The Peninsula Hotel erected its Shanghai branch at Bund #29 – the first building to be erected on the Bund in 50 years.

While that which we traditionally regard as The Shanghai Bund consists of the 23 buildings situated on the waterfront, there is another cluster of historic buildings to the north of the bund which huddles along the banks of the Suzhou Creek 蘇州河.  This is what’s known as the Waitanyuan 外灘園 district, which is undergoing extensive renovations to become Rockbund – a cultural, museum and lifestyle precinct.

(There is also the French Bund, or Quai de France, which sits to the south of the British Bund, and has its own small string of historic buildings… but that’s not covered in this post.)

This visual and architectural tour of the Bund has two parts – it first takes in the Bund proper, and meanders over to the Suzhou Creek and Waitanyuan area for a quick peek.

The Bund Proper

We start off at the very edge of the French Bund and take a slow stroll along the waterfront, admiring the 23 (now 24) majestic buildings with their eclectic styles of architecture.

Between the French and the British Bund sits the Gutzlaff Signal Tower. this version was built by the British and the Dutch in 1907, to replace a French-built tower, named after a German missionary, Karl Gutzlaff.

Between the French and the British Bund sits the Gutzlaff Signal Tower. this version was built by the British and the Dutch in 1907, to replace a French-built tower, named after a German missionary, Karl Gutzlaff.

Behind Bund #1 sits the former Telegraph Building of the Danish Great Northern Telegraph Company, erected in 1927.

Behind Bund #1 sits the former Telegraph Building of the Danish Great Northern Telegraph Company, erected in 1927.

Bund #1 is the McBain Building, also known as the Royal Dutch Shell Asiatic Petroleum Building as the latter were the main tenants for the bulk of the building's history.  Designed by Moorhead & Halse and erected in 1916.

Bund #1 is the McBain Building, also known as the Royal Dutch Shell Asiatic Petroleum Building as the latter were the main tenants for the bulk of the building’s history. Designed by Moorhead & Halse in a neo-classical design, and erected in 1916.

Bund # 2 is the former Shanghai Club, designed by Moorhead & Halse in an Edwardian Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1910. It is famous for its Long Bar.

Bund # 2 is the former Shanghai Club, designed by Moorhead & Halse in an Edwardian Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1910. It is famous for its Long Bar.

Bund #3 is the former Union Insurance Company Building, designed by Palmer & Turner in Italian Renaissance style and erected in 1916.  In 2004, it was restored and re-opened as 3 on the Bund, a restaurant, bar and lifestyle destination.

Bund #3 is the former Union Insurance Company Building, designed by Palmer & Turner in Italian Renaissance style and erected in 1916. In 2004, it was restored and re-opened as 3 on the Bund, a restaurant, bar and lifestyle destination.

Bund #5 is the Nisshin Kisen Kaisha (Japanese Steamship Company) Building, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1921.  It was restored and reopened in 1999 as M on the Bund.

Bund #5 is the Nisshin Kisen Kaisha (Japanese Steamship Company) Building, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1921. It was restored and reopened in 1999 as M on the Bund.

Bund #6 is the former Russell & Co Building, one of the oldest buildings on the Bund, designed by Morrison & Gratton in a Neo-Gothic style and erected in 1881.

Bund #6 is the former Russell & Co Building, one of the oldest buildings on the Bund, designed by Morrison & Gratton in a Neo-Gothic style and erected in 1881.

Bund #7 is the Danish Great Northern Telegraph Company Building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in an Italianate style and erected in 1906.  It houses the Bangkok Bank and the Thai Consulate today.

Bund #7 is the Danish Great Northern Telegraph Company Building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in an Italianate style and erected in 1906. It houses the Bangkok Bank and the Thai Consulate today.

Bund # 9 is the oldest building on the Bund, formerly the offices of Russell & Co. Probably designed by Atkinson & Dallas and erected in the 1860s. In 1901, it housed the China Merchants Steam Navigation Company.

Bund # 9 is the oldest building on the Bund, formerly the offices of Russell & Co. Probably designed by Atkinson & Dallas and erected in the 1860s. In 1901, it housed the China Merchants Steam Navigation Company.

Bund # 12 is the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Headquarters, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Neoclassical style and erected in 1923. Today, it houses the Pudong Development Bank.

Bund # 12 is the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Headquarters, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Neoclassical style and erected in 1923. Today, it houses the Pudong Development Bank.

Bund #13 is the Custom House, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1927.  It is an iconic landmark on the Bund.

Bund #13 is the Custom House, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1927. It is an iconic landmark on the Bund.

Bund #14 is the Bank of Communications, the last building to be built on the Bund until the Peninsula Hotel. Designed by CH Gonda in an Art Deco style and opened in 1948, just before Mao's Communists took over Shanghai.

Bund #14 is the Bank of Communications, the last building to be built on the Bund until the Peninsula Hotel. Designed by CH Gonda in an Art Deco style and opened in 1948, just before Mao’s Communists took over Shanghai.

Right beside the Bank of Communications is an obviously recently-erected building that might be a wing of the Bank.  It has no unique address.

Right beside the Bank of Communications is an obviously recently-erected building that might be a wing of the Bank. It has no unique address.

Bund #15 is the Russo-Asiatic Bank, designed by Heinrich Becker in a Classical style and opened in 1902.

Bund #15 is the Russo-Asiatic Bank, designed by Heinrich Becker in a Classical style and opened in 1902.

Bund #16 is the former Bank of Taiwan, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in an eclectic style and opened in 1926.  The Bank of Taiwan was a Japanese bank because Taiwan was a Japanese colony at the time.

Bund #16 is the former Bank of Taiwan, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in an eclectic style and opened in 1926. The Bank of Taiwan was a Japanese bank because Taiwan was a Japanese colony at the time.

Bund #17 is the North China News Building, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1924.

Bund #17 is the North China News Building, designed by Lester Johnson & Morris in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1924.

Bund #18 is the former Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China Building (the fore-runner of today's Standard Chartered Bank). Designed by Palmer & Turner in a Neo-classical style and opened in 1923.

Bund #18 is the former Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China Building (the fore-runner of today’s Standard Chartered Bank). Designed by Palmer & Turner in a Neo-classical style and opened in 1923.

Bund #19 is the famous Palace Hotel, designed by W Scott of Scott & Carter in an Edwardian style and opened in 1909. Today it houses the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.

Bund #19 is the famous Palace Hotel, designed by W Scott of Scott & Carter in an Edwardian style and opened in 1909. Today it houses the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.

Bund #20 is the former Cathay Hotel, established by the British-Jewish mogul, Sir Victor Sassoon in 1929, just before the Great Depression struck in New York. It is designed by Palmer & Turner in an Art Deco style.

Bund #20 is the former Cathay Hotel, established by the British-Jewish mogul, Sir Victor Sassoon in 1929, just before the Great Depression struck in New York. It is designed by Palmer & Turner in an Art Deco style.

Bund #23 is the Bank of China Building, designed by Lu Qianshou of Palmer & Turner in a Chinese Nationalist style and opened in 1941.

Bund #23 is the Bank of China Building, designed by Lu Qianshou of Palmer & Turner in a Chinese Nationalist style and opened in 1941.

Bund #25 is the Yokohama Specie Bank Building, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1924.

Bund #25 is the Yokohama Specie Bank Building, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1924.

Bund #26 is the Yangtze Insurance Company building, started by Russell & Co in 1862 to provide shipping insurance. Designed by Palmer & Turner and opened in 1920.

Bund #26 is the Yangtze Insurance Company building, started by Russell & Co in 1862 to provide shipping insurance. Designed by Palmer & Turner and opened in 1920.

Bund #27 is the former headquarters of Jardine Matheson & Company. Designed by AW Graham-Brown of Stewardson & Spence in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1922.

Bund #27 is the former headquarters of Jardine Matheson & Company. Designed by AW Graham-Brown of Stewardson & Spence in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1922.

Bund #28 is the Glen Line Steamship Company building, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1921.

Bund #28 is the Glen Line Steamship Company building, designed by Palmer & Turner in a Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1921.

Bund #29 is the former Banque de L'Indochine building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in an Italian Renaissance style and opened in 1914.

Bund #29 is the former Banque de L’Indochine building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in an Italian Renaissance style and opened in 1914.

Bund #31 is the new Shanghai branch of the Peninsula Hotel, opened in 2010. It is the first building to be built on the Bund in 60 years, and possibly the last.

Bund #31 is the new Shanghai branch of the Peninsula Hotel, opened in 2010. It is the first building to be built on the Bund in 60 years, and possibly the last.

View of the Bund from Ground level.

View of the Bund from Ground level.

Bund #33 is the former British Consulate, designed by Grossman & Boyce and opened in 1873.

Bund #33 is the former British Consulate, designed by Grossman & Boyce and opened in 1873.

The Suzhou Creek and Waitanyuan Area

North of the Bund proper, across the Suzhou Creek, sits some of Shanghai’s most iconic pieces of architecture – the Astor Hotel and Broadway Mansions.  On this side of the Creek behind the Bund and in the vicinity of the former British Consulate is the Waitanyuan district.

The Garden Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Shanghai, built over the Suzhou Creek. This version was built in 1908.

The Garden Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Shanghai, built over the Suzhou Creek. This version was built in 1908.

The Russian Consulate was designed by Hans Emil Lieb and erected in 1917.

The Russian Consulate was designed by Hans Emil Lieb and erected in 1917.

The famous Astor House Hotel is run by the Kadoorie family. It was first built in 1911 to a design by Atkinson & Dallas.

The famous Astor House Hotel is run by the Kadoorie family. It was first built in 1911 to a design by Atkinson & Dallas.

The famous Broadway Mansions, designed by Bright Fraser with Palmer & Turner in an Art Deco style and erected in 1934.

The famous Broadway Mansions, designed by Bright Fraser with Palmer & Turner in an Art Deco style and erected in 1934.

The Shanghai Post and Telecommunications Building, designed by Stephenson & Spence in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1924.

The Shanghai Post and Telecommunications Building, designed by Stephenson & Spence in a Beaux-Arts style and erected in 1924.

The British Consul General's Residence, in the compounds of the former British Consulate.

The British Consul General’s Residence, in the compounds of the former British Consulate.

The former Shanghai Rowing Club was designed by Scott & Carter in an Edwardian style and erected in 1905.

The former Shanghai Rowing Club was designed by Scott & Carter in an Edwardian style and erected in 1905.

The Shanghai Union Church was erected in 1886 in a Gothic style.

The Shanghai Union Church was erected in 1886 in a Gothic style.

View down Yuanmingyuan Road in the Rockbund development.

View down Yuanmingyuan Road in the Rockbund development.

The China Baptist Publication Society, designed by Ladislav Hudec in a New York Gothic style and erected in 1930.

The China Baptist Publication Society, designed by Ladislav Hudec in a New York Gothic style and erected in 1930.

Somekh Mansions, designed by Moorhead, Halse & Robinson in an eclectic style and erected in 1927.

Somekh Mansions, designed by Moorhead, Halse & Robinson in an eclectic style and erected in 1927.

Ampire & Co. Building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in the Arts andCrafts style, and erected in 1908.

Ampire & Co. Building, designed by Atkinson & Dallas in the Arts andCrafts style, and erected in 1908.

Abraham Building, designed by Stephenson & Spence in a Renaissance style and erected in 1911. Established by D.E.J. Abraham, a Sephardi Jew.

Abraham Building, designed by Stephenson & Spence in a Renaissance style and erected in 1911. Established by D.E.J. Abraham, a Sephardi Jew.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, China, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, Photography, Sociology & Urban Studies, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Tour of the Shanghai Bund (上海外灘)

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Great post ! I was also writing an article on the night scene at Shanghai Bund as well. It was really a pity that I could not capture that much buildings as you have did. Hope that you can share more of this kind of post !

  2. Dear Kennie,

    I love you work. I’m writing and photographing a book called Shanghai Then and Now to complement my books on Singapore Tthen and Now and also Hong Kong Then and Now.
    Where are you based? I’ll be in Shanghai 10 to 20 November.

    Vaughan Grylls

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