Our Insiders Guide to Parks in Shanghai
Xuhui Riverside Park
It’s beginning to feel like fall in Shanghai.
As it starts to get cooler outside, what better way to enjoy this fall weather than having a picnic at the park.
Xuhui Riverside Park (徐汇滨江绿地) is hands down of my favorite parks in Shanghai to visit. It’s not nearly as big or well-known as Century Park (世纪公园), nor does it have a quaint French rose garden as does Fu Xing Park (复兴公园).
But it’s young, lively, and unique in its own way. Not to mention it’s right by the water and the view is pretty amazing.
Despite of its size and the fact that it’s tucked a few kilometers away from city center, it always seems to be packed every time I visit.
This might be because the park offers amenities such us an 8.6 kilometer running track, a rock climbing area, skate park, and plenty of grass space.
Best of all, it’s pet friendly. On weekends, it’s not unusual to see many of our furry friends playing on the grass with their owners.
A Tour of the Park
If you enter from the intersection of Long Teng Boulevard (龙腾大道) and Rui Ning Road (瑞宁路), near the North West entrance of Long Museum (龙美术馆), you will notice parts of the old railway tracks under your feet, hidden and carefully preserved.
What looks like an inside of an industrial building stands sandwiched between two modern buildings.
The thick rectangular concrete columns are exposed and its surfaces discolored.
The interesting lines and bare exterior of this edifice makes it a hot spot for photographs.
Walking past between the museum and the concrete behemoth, you can see the Huang Pu River (黄浦江) in all its glory.
The white arch of Lupu Bridge (卢浦大桥) over to your left is hard to miss, and across the river is the Shanghai World Expo.
Industrial ships and cargo boats often cross this part of the river. Their movements slow and idyllic.
The most recognizable components of the Xuhui Riverside Park are without doubt the two large orange cranes, located a few hundred meters apart, overlooking the river.
Along with the mysterious concrete edifice from earlier, they tell the story of the area from the past.
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The area where the park is today used to be a large industrial zone, far from the urban oasis it is today.
A Brief History of Xuhui Riverside Park
It’s not hard to guess that the park was once used as a railway station by the steam locomotive in display and the train tracks meandering throughout the park. In fact, this train station dates back all the way to 1907.
Originally named Ri Hui Gang Huo Zhan (日晖港货栈), it was part of the earliest freight railway in China.
Over the course of history, this train station was renamed several times. Today, most people remember it as Nan Pu Railway Station (南浦火車站).
The Xuhui Riverside park also tells a story of the history of coal.
In 1929, Bei Piao Ma Tou (北票码头) was born along with two floating docks where the two cranes stand today.
It was mainly used to load and unload coal and other industrial materials. The concrete remnant was part of a coal plant near the dock.
The area used to be a coal storage and transportation hub.
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For years, Bei Piao Ma Tou was responsible for the supply and transfer of coals for Zhe Jiang (浙江), Jiang Su (江苏), Fujian (福建) and other provinces, as well as supporting the supply of electricity to parts of Shanghai.
Some even regard it as the power house of East China. Nonetheless, Bei Piao Ma Tou played a vital role in the industrial history of Shanghai for sure.
If you haven’t already, pay a visit to the Xuhui Riverside Park.
And if you have, I hope the information in this article gave you a new sense of appreciation for the park on your next visit.
Pro tip: come late March early April for a beautiful display for cherry blossoms!
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