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IN PHOTOS: Nanjing Road, where Shanghai’s historic buildings meet skyscrapers

Lance Spencer Yu

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IN PHOTOS: Nanjing Road, where Shanghai’s historic buildings meet skyscrapers

SHANGHAI. Old and new buildings line Nanjing Road.

Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler

Nanjing Road’s hundreds of stores offer something for everyone

SHANGHAI, China – Lying at the heart of China’s financial capital is Nanjing Road, a five-kilometer stretch that serves as a living timeline of Shanghai’s colonial past and electrifying present.

IN PHOTOS: Nanjing Road, where Shanghai’s historic buildings meet skyscrapers

Nanjing Road is one of the world’s busiest shopping areas. As day falls into night, thousand troop to the street, which has become a go-to getaway for tourists and locals alike. The thick crowd thrums with a young, cosmopolitan energy.

SHOPPING. People walk along Nanjing Road, a popular pedestrian shopping street in Shanghai. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.

China, in all its wonders and flaws, is full of contradictions. Nowhere is that more apparent than here. Along one side stands a statue commemorating the soldiers that fought and died for China’s communist dream. A few meters down the road, the glitzy megastores of Apple and Gucci swing their doors wide open to anyone who can pay the price.

Gucci, Nanjing Road
LUXURY. Nanjing Road is home to various luxury brands, including Gucci.
MALLS. Several malls and department stores line Nanjing Road. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.

Nanjing Road’s hundreds of stores offer something for everyone. Anime fans can wander through buildings filled with figurines, photo cards, and other merchandise. Food halls tempt pedestrians with stacked dimsum towers and warm noodle soup. Elsewhere, stalls selling all manners of trinkets line up a star-studded alleyway, from bags of White Rabbit candies to capybara plushies.

SWEETS. A store along Nanjing Road sells White Rabbit candies. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.
FOOD. Brightly colored food halls beckon to hungry pedestrians. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.
STARS. Stalls sell snacks and trinkets along the alleyways of Nanjing Road. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.

On the eastern side of Nanjing Road are historic buildings that date back to the early 20th century. The European-style structures are relics of Shanghai’s foreign concessions, where foreign powers once held sway over the city. These were areas in Shanghai where Britain, France, and the United States had extraterritorial rights and administered their own laws, separate from Chinese jurisdiction.

Nanjing Road is built on what was once the British concession, established in 1845. Several historic buildings remain surprisingly well-preserved. The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, where Chiang Kai-shek and his fiancée celebrated their engagement, was constructed in the early 1900s and is now a protected cultural monument. Just a few steps away stands the Glen Line Building, originally built in 1922 and currently home to the Shanghai Clearing House.

PRESERVED. The Swatch Art Peace Hotel (left) was constructed in the early 1900s. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.
PRESERVED. The Glen Line Building (left) was first built in 1922. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.

At the eastern end of Nanjing Road, two rows of near century-old buildings give way to a riverside view of The Bund, where lights dance across a skyline of glass towers.

SKYLINE. A riverside view of The Bund, the city center of Shanghai. Photo by Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.

Many years ago, the Huangpu River gave life to a sleepy fishing village called Shanghai. Now, by night, its waters shimmer with the colors of modernity. – Rappler.com

Disclosure: The author was part of a media delegation to the Envision 2023 Global Partners Conference hosted by Trip.com Group

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.