Another Sign of Old Shanghai Vanishing


Above:  My mother Liz Field and a heritage plaque on Wuding Xi Lu, proving that this was once Kinnear Road. 

This morning we were surprised to find blue skies instead of the usual rain.  My mother and I took advantage of the weather and headed out for a walk.  Our mission was to find the former address of an acquaintance of hers in the Boston area.  Her friend, a 70-something year old man named Rolf Wetzell, grew up in Shanghai.  He left in the late 1940s on the eve of the revolution, and never returned.  He wanted my mother to find his old house, which he said was located at lane 189 on Kinnear Road. 


Through a google search, I determined that Kinnear Road is now Wuding Road, so we headed there.  We started off on the wrong end of the road, but were rewarded with lunch at Mediterraneo, a posh Italian eatery housed in an old mansion built in the 1920s.  After that we walked outside again and were floored by the oppressive heat and humidity--summer has definitely arrived.  As we walked down the street, I shot this photo of an old man teaching his grandson how to get rid of those pesky Nationalists.


We took a cab to the other end of Wuding Road on the corner of Taixing Road, where we found the address.  Well, not quite.  The numbers jumped from 181 to 203, but we figured that the original address was in that block.  It turns out that the lanehouses at that location were all being demolished to make way, one assumes, for a new apartment or office complex.  My mother and I trudged through the rubble of bricks and bric-a-brac searching for her friend's house number 49, but couldn't pinpoint it.  But I did shoot a whole bunch of photos of the neighborhood in mid-demolition, backgrounded by soaring apartment buildings in all directions. 


I suppose we'll have to wait and see if Rolf recognizes the remnants of his boyhood neighborhood.  The apocalyptic scene reminded me of some of Greg Girard's photos contrasting the old destroyed homes against the backdrop of the high-rises of the '90s and '00s, although this was in midday and he usually photographs at night in order to see both the exteriors and the lit-up interiors.  I've posted more of them in my Streets of Shanghai Gallery.