By P Chong Mon. 12 April 2010
The 2,000-metre long waterfront promenade of the Bund, Shanghai’s European-style boulevard or esplanade, looks so refreshing & welcoming after a three-year facelift costing the City officials US$700 million.
Its reopening last month to the public was well in time to welcome the influx of tourists with the opening of the World Expo 2010 on 1 May. It is now four times larger than before connecting four theme squares with a seating capacity for 2,000.
From the photos my email pal sent me, I can visualise a different atmosphere immediately. Its vast development & improvement made it an ideal fun place for the public & will no doubt supersede its past fame as a tourist destination.
Summarily, the improvements include:
* Widening of the pedestrian mall
* Vantage point to view the fabulous Pudong across the Huangpu River
* Tunnelling work to ease traffic congestion
* Reducing to six lanes from the previous eleven – 70% of the traffic
will now be diverted underground
* Convenient now to live in Puxi & work in Pudong with the construction of several tunnels & bridges connecting the two locations
* Illegal vendors or hawkers will be a thing of the past
* It will have its own dedicated team of police.
According to Shanghai’s mayor, Han Zheng: “The Bund is the symbol of Shanghai. It bears 170 years of history of this city & condenses the transformation of Chinese economy, politics & culture in the course of 100 years.”
The old Bund contains 52 historic colonial buildings. Newer skyscrapers are mainly on the eastern side of the Huangpu River. Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower is the third highest in the world.
As many as two million visitors are expected on the new Bund. I remember during our first visit to the Bund in 1989 & subsequently in 1997, we were swarmed by curious friendly crowds, eager to practise their spoken English with us.
The Bund will always be the centre of Shanghai’s residents’ life. It fame & longevity have long been perpetuated by the popular tune of “Shanghai Bund” – sung either in Cantonese or Mandarin.