Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, Shanghai Bund is a must-visit place starting from the Garden Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the Jinling Road East and winding a length of 1500 meters. The most visible reminder of Shanghai’s colonial heritage, the Bund attracts millions of visitors from home and abroad each year.
"Bund" derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront and that is what it was at the beginning when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. The Bund became the site of some of the earliest foreign settlements after Shanghai was opened as one of five "Treaty Ports" specified in the Nanjing Treaty that ended the Opium War in 1842. Because of its proximity to the Yangtze River – the path into central China, Shanghai grew rapidly as the economic center of foreign interests.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Bund became the financial and political center of the international community in China. It was China’s Wall Street, as Shanghai’s financial market became the third largest in the world (behind London and New York). Nearby were located a number of important consulates, including the British, American, Russian and Japanese.
The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund is a "museum of international architecture" with the various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance, making the picturesque Bund more European than Chinese in character. Although they were not designed by the same person or built in the same period, they achieved a harmonic outline when viewed as a whole.
Unfortunately, since 1949, many of the structures were subdivided into government offices, department stores or storage areas, furnishings were sold off or destroyed, and architectural features covered.
The Bund was left dark for decades. However, great change took place with the revitalization of Shanghai, strongly encouraged by a visit of Deng Xiaoping in 1992. The next year the plans for the Bund were finalized and the renewal of Shanghai began in earnest. The Bund resumes its role as a central business district (CBD) and now the lights are coming back up.
The flower-stands together with street lamps have become the resort place as well as sightseeing for the ordinary people. The Bund is one of the favorite morning exercise spots for Shanghai’s early risers. It also offers a captivating view of the modern Pudong with its Oriental Pearl TV Tower and numerous majestic skyscrapers. After sunset the view becomes even better. When lights are turned on between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., the Bund has the best nocturnal scene to offer.
Many years ago, a "Lover’s Wall" made the Bund more romantic. The 500-metre section between Beijing Road East and Yan’an Road East was packed with lovers kissing and hugging, regardless of the reproachful glances cast by passer-bys!
Today, the comprehensive development of river bank areas has been progressing positively and steadily for "the pride of the century", the glamour of the Bund will extend to the South Bund in Huangpu, North Bund in Hongkou and East Bund in Yangpu.