The Bund (also called Waitan [外滩]; pronounced like” fund”) is an area of Huangpu District in Shanghai which runs along the west bank of the Huangpu River. With a length of just over a mile (1,700 meters), the Bund extends from Waibaidu Bridge (“Garden Bridge” in English) in the north to East-2 Zhongshan Road in the south and is a world-famous destination and landmark.
The Bund, or “Embankment,” usually refers to the building and wharves on this section of road. Facing the Huangpu River, the Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles including Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, Neo-Classical and Art Deco such that it is nicknamed the world expo of architecture.
History of the Bund
Before 1842, the Bund was a desolate area, a narrow muddy path to the river, without any protective facilities along the bank. According to the Treaty of Nanjing which was signed after the First Opium War (1839 – 1942) with Britain, Shanghai was forced to open up as a port for Britain and other Western nations and the Bund began its development of banks and trading houses. In November of 1843, a British captain was sent to Shanghai and he asked for a piece of land on the bank of Huangpu River for the British to settle on.
Later, French and American settlements were developed. Since then, the Bund gradually came into being. At the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century, a building boom led to Shanghai becoming a financial hub of East Asia, which helped Shanghai step into its modern times. By the 1940s, many buildings in the Bund served as the headquarters of financial institutions running across China. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, these institutions were moved out and buildings were converted to other uses.
The Bund of Today
The Bund underwent renovations in the 1990s. A great change took place in Shanghai after a visit by Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor as leader of the PRC, in 1992. In the next year, the plan for renewal and renovation of the Bund was finalized and the Bund resumed its role as a financial center.
Chen Yi Square is a famous spot on the Bund. The only bronze statue of Chen Yi (the first communist mayor of Shanghai) can be found standing on the square. On weekends, you can often see concerts that are held in the front of the statue of Chen Yi. A pedestrian transit tunnel between East Nanjing Road and Oriental Pearl TV Tower crosses the Huangpu River. It only takes about 2.5 to 5 minutes to reach the other bank of the river. The spare space in the tunnel is also fully used to demonstrate various kinds of pictures related to the history, culture, technology and scenery of Shanghai.