Suzhou Creek waterfront highlights industrial heritage

May 23, 2019 |

A downtown section along the Suzhou Creek, once home to China's earliest industries, has been renovated.

The 1.6-kilometer stretch between Xikang Road and Wuning Road bridges in Putuo District, which was interrupted by companies or neighborhoods, has been connected and will open to the public soon.

The waterfront known as Baocheng Bay was home to a fifth of China's earliest textile factories, dating back to the 1920s. After 1949, the Shanghai No. 1, 6 and 7 cotton factories were based on the waterfront, along with a military warehouse for quilts and uniforms. The site was dubbed the "cradle of China's textile industry."

The deserted backyards or space for illegal structures have long been closed to the public, according to Putuo's construction management commission.

The renovation has replaced a muddy path with plastic cement, while illegal structures have been demolished to make way for pocket parks.

Several industrial buildings have been preserved, including a warehouse and pump house at 652 Changshou Road which was built in 1922 by the Japanese Home and Foreign Cotton Trading Co and later owned by Shanghai Textile Holding Co. 

The riverside region has been converted into an innovation park.

Renovations are ongoing to convert the 80-year-old military warehouse into a makerspace for local startups. The former watchtower has been retained for visitors to view the scenery along the creek.

"The waterfront section on the south bank of the creek is expected to become a backyard for nearby residents, a public plaza for white-collar workers in the innovation park as well as a tourism attraction about the industrial heritage," said Lin Zengming, an official with the commission.

The city government plans to redevelop the waterfront of the creek with continuous paths and attractions. The 125-kilometer creek, which flows from Qingpu District to Waibaidu Bridge, is the Huangpu River's biggest tributary.

According to the development plan “Striving for a World-Class Waterfront Area,” continuous riverside zones will be created along both the Huangpu and Suzhou Creek by 2020, featuring more greenery, preserved historical buildings, cross-river bridges, “sponge city” technology and even "harmonious hues."

Putuo has the longest waterfront in downtown, stretching 21 kilometers with 18 bays. The riverside region was interrupted by a total of 19 spots, by either infrastructure, neighborhoods or companies.

A dozen of the interruptions have been removed since the district government launched the renovation campaign in October 2018, Lin said. Some of them, such as the Baocheng Bay section, will initially open to the public as a demonstration area to promote the renovation campaign.

The M50 (50 Moganshan Road), a neat contemporary art zone, has been demolishing walls to open its waterfront to the public. Its nearby “1,000 Trees” project has also involved the opening and redevelopment of the waterfront as part of the project.

Weddings and outdoor concerts will be held at the waterfront in front of the commercial and hotel complex. Four buildings which comprised China’s earliest private flour factory which opened in 1900 have been preserved as a museum, art gallery and restaurant.

Unmanned supermarkets, vending machines and toilets will be dotted along the continuous paths in future along with gardens and pocket parks.

High-tech ground tiles will adorn the waterfront near the Caojiadu area, once home to the city's largest flower market and now being developed into a major e-sports hub.

Sidewalks stretching 45 kilometers on the banks of the Huangpu downtown between Yangpu and Xupu bridges are already open. The city plans to extend those both upstream and downstream, while improving services and scenery on the existing section.