Switching to Team Puxi

I guess that it is no secret that I like the (older) Puxi side of Shanghai a bit better than the (overblown instant futuristic cityscape) Pudong side.  Well, now we are looking for a new place to live, we are embracing the opportunity to switch to the correct side of the river.  We are focusing on the area around Changshu Lu Station, at the northern end of the French Concession (ie the area were most of the Europeans were corralled early last century).

The streets in this area (unlike those in Pudong) have an intimate scale and are lined by plane trees that were planted by homesick Europeans.  You can actually cross the street without risking your life, as the scene above – ie minimal cars – can attest to.  The heavy foliage helps to cool these streetscape, meaning that Puxi can be a few degrees cooler during summer.

And instead of huge residential compounds, the French Concession has a mix of lower scale villas and apartments, focused around laneways and small courtyards.   The buildings engage with the street, with small shopfronts and office spaces, awnings and overhangs.  In Pudong, it is endless security fences, broken by the occasional boom gate (actively protected by security guards) to allow vehicular access into a basement carpark.

Puxi also houses a lot of Shanghai’s wonderful Art Deco architecture.  (supposedly, it has one of the world’s best collections).

The whole area is full of magic little moments of everyday life, like a  lovely doorway into an older apartment complex…

or crazy wiring along every street …

some kelp hanging on a makeshift drying rack (a stick balanced between a signpost and an electrical box) …

this sweet little stained-glass window (jutting into the footpath at head height, but whatever…)

an odd piece of graffiti (or advertising…?) on the side of a convenience store (I am sure it is quite innocent, but the spacing of letters suggests otherwise … Expo becomes Sexpo, and the aids bit at the end suggests it is something that’s a bit how’s-your-father?)

and this little Puxi resident, mouth pressed against the crack of the door to a beauty salon, apparently overwhelmed by the staleness of air-conditioning or the scent of nail polish (and I thought Pudong compound living was a bit stifling…)

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