In previous posts I covered the Trenches, an infamous bar and vice district in the northern part of the city, north of Settlement boundaries. Another was Blood Alley, located on the boundary between the French Concession and International Settlement near the Bund. Here is one of many articles describing this bar street and arguing that it ought to be converted into retail stores.
“BLOOD-ALLEY" SHOULD BE MADE INTO RETAIL DISTRICT
The China Weekly Review, Sept. 10 1938
The world's "wettest" and most lawless block is probably located in the down-town section of the French Concession. It fronts on Avenue Edward VII and is bounded by Rue Chu Pao-san, Rue du Consulate and Rue Petit.
By actual count there are 17 low-class bars and cabarets in this district, all of them catering to the sailor trade. Many an American sailor lad who signed up with the object of, "seeing the world" in accordance with the Navy recruiting posters, has found the world as expected to see occupied by the bars and dives of “Blood-Alley," the expressive name applied to the district which is known up and down the Asiatic Coast.
Recently a young American sailor was beaten and clubbed in this district and an American civilian who went to his rescue suffered a similar fate. A few days later a fight between British and Italian soldiers in one of the resorts caused the entire area to be placed “out of bounds” for service men. The American naval and marine authorities took similar action, following the attack on the sailor and civilian. Three or four years ago several foreigners were arrested in Dairen and ultimately found guilty and executed on a charge of piracy. They had gone aboard a cargo ship at Tientsin, murdered the officers, locked the crew in the hold and tried to sell the ship. Instead they ran it on the beach at Dairen and were caught. In the ensuing trial the men confessed they had framed the piracy in one of the bars and cabarets in "Blood-Alley."
Although the facts about the ownership of the bars, resorts and narcotic-joints in this district are not known, it has been alleged that the real owners of most of the real estate and buildings are some of the French Catholic orders. It is claimed that the directors of these institutions are not aware of the manner in which their property is being used, as it has been sub-let. It is a fact that few Frenchmen are connected with the operation of the resorts, most of them being operated by Chinese, Russians, Germans and a few Americans.
The close link-up between the vice and criminality of this area and the political controllers of the French Concession is apparently not greatly different from the connection between crime and politics in many American cities. One element here is worse—the dope element—opium, morphine, and heroin are said to be dispensed quite openly in the district.
The French authorities ought to close up the entire district and convert it into an area for modern retail shops. It seems strange that the owners of the real estate have not thought about it before—particularly since the Japanese seizure and control of the once prosperous Hongkew and Yangtszepoo districts. Thousands of flourishing retail establishments previously located on North Szechuen, Seward, Yangtszepoo and other streets of Hongkew have had to move into the section of the International Settlement "south of the creek." Hundreds of other shop-keepers probably have been unable to find new locations. If “Blood-Alley" could be cleansed of its dives and bars, thoroughly disinfected and aired, it could be converted into one of the most attractive retail areas in the city. It seems strange that real estate promoters have not thought of this before!
If it is true that the real estate is owned by the Catholic societies, then they should take the first step to effect a house-cleaning!