World ? Asia ? China ? Shanghai

Shanghai: Main Streets

In downtown Shanghai, the general rule is that east-west streets are named for Chinese cities, while north-south streets are named for provinces and regions. The main east-west street through downtown Shanghai is Nanjing Lu, historically China's number-one shopping street. The portion running west from the Bund, through the pedestrian mall, to People's Park (Renmin Gongyuan), is known officially as Nanjing Dong Lu; it continues west as Nanjing Xi Lu. Parallel to Nanjing Lu in the south is Yan'an Lu (originally a creek dividing the International Settlement from the French Concession to the south), which runs west through the downtown corridor all the way to the Hongqiao airport (changing its name in the western segment to Hongqiao Lu). Running above Yan'an Lu is the elevated expressway Yan'an Gaojia, the quickest way to traverse downtown Shanghai; near the Bund, this leads to the underground tunnel Yan'an Dong Lu Suidao that resurfaces on the east side of the river in Pudong. It used to take an hour to drive from the Hongqiao District through downtown to Pudong, but the Yan'an Expressway has cut the travel time to 20 minutes without traffic. To the south, the Fuxing Lu Tunnel also runs from Puxi to the foot of the Nanpu Bridge in Pudong.

The major north-south thoroughfares include the Bund, on the west shore of the Huangpu River (the avenue along the Bund is known as Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu); and Xizang Lu, which divides Nanjing Lu into its east and west sectors, and Yan'an Lu and Huaihai Lu into their east and middle (zhong) sectors. Xizang Lu also borders People's Square (Renmin Guangchang), the site of the Shanghai Museum, the Grand Theater, and the central subway station for both Metro lines.

In the French Concession, the two big avenues are Huaihai Zhong Lu (Shanghai's second most famous shopping street) and Fuxing Zhong Lu, both extensions of the east-west streets that begin downtown at the southern Bund (Zhongshan Dong Er Lu). Crossing them are a number of smaller scenic streets, the liveliest of which are Ruijin Lu and Maoming Lu (Shanghai's top bar street) near the historic Jin Jiang Hotel. At the western end of the French Concession, the graceful and trendy avenue of Hengshan Lu runs south toward the Xujiahui shopping area.

Downtown Shanghai, the French Concession, large portions of north and south Shanghai, as well as the Pudong New Area, are surrounded by the Inner Ring Road (Neihuan Gaojia), an elevated expressway that bears the road name Zhongshan along most of its route. This Inner Ring Road is bisected by the North-South Elevated Road (Nanbei Gaojia), which runs above Chengdu Bei Lu, the first major street west of People's Square, a rough dividing line between downtown Shanghai and the French Concession. A second, even larger ring road is under construction; it will join the airports of east and west Shanghai.

Making Sense of Shanghai Street Names -- Shanghai's main streets, as well as some smaller streets that intersect them, are often mouthfuls to pronounce and difficult to remember at first, but after a few trips through the city, they begin to sort themselves out. One reason that the street names in pinyin seem so long is that they incorporate the characters for north or south, street or avenue, all running together in the street name. Zhongshan East First Road is written in pinyin as Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu. Common items in street names and their English translations are as follows:

Bei = North Jie = Street Yi = First

Nan = South Da Dao = Avenue Er = Second

Dong = East Lu = Road San = Third

Xi = West Nong = Lane

Zhong = Central

Finding an Address

Nearly all of Shanghai's big streets have signs on poles near intersections that give the names in Chinese characters and in pinyin, which is the alphabetical rendering of those characters (used on maps and throughout this book). Though street numbers are given, few locals pay any attention to them, as navigation is usually by street name, landmarks, and nearby intersections. The only exception is in the case of Shanghai's many smaller lanes (nongtang,nong for short) branching off the main streets and the smaller intersecting streets. An address sometimes given as Hengshan Lu 9, no. 3, means it's House no. 3 (sanhao) situated in Lane no. 9 (jiu nong) off Hengshan Lu; Lane no. 9 could well be found between House no. 7 and Lane no. 11; taxi drivers and locals are quite familiar with this system should you need to locate such an address.

The maps in this guide cannot fully capture the details of any given area, so it's highly recommended that you buy a map or get one from your hotel concierge. Between the Chinese characters provided in this book's map keys and a second (preferably trilingual) map with English, pinyin, and characters, you should have no problems comparing the characters with the road signs as you make your way. It's always helpful to have your hotel staff mark your hotel and destination on your map before you set off so that you can show it to taxi drivers or passers-by should you get lost. There is, however, no question of truly getting lost even if you wander off the main paths indicated on the maps. Given Shanghai's Western influence, it's not difficult these days to find even a marginal English speaker to help you, even if it's just to locate an address on the map and point you in the right direction. Though their daily attitudes may not reflect it, Shanghai residents can be quite friendly and helpful to beleaguered foreigners.

The Streets of Old Shanghai

Up until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, many of Shanghai's streets bore foreign names, bequeathed to the city by colonial overlords. Here's a partial list of old and new:

Current street name . . . once known as

Fuxing Zhong Lu . . . Route Lafayette

Henan Lu . . . Homan Road

Hengshan Lu . . . Avenue Petain

Huaihai Zhong Lu . . . Avenue Joffre

Maoming Bei Lu . . . Moulmien Road

Maoming Nan Lu . . . Route Cardinal Mercier

Nanjing Xi Lu . . . Bubbling Well Road

Nanjing Dong Lu . . . Nanking Road

Renmin Lu . . . Boulevard des Deux Republiques

Ruijin Er Lu . . . Route Pere Robert

Ruijin Yi Lu . . . Route des Soeurs

Sinan Lu . . . Rue Masenet

Tianshan Lu . . . Lincoln Avenue

Xizang Nan Lu . . . Boulevard de Montiguy

Yan'an Dong Lu . . . Avenue Edward VII

Yan'an Xi Lu . . . Great Western Road

Yan'an Zhong Lu . . . Avenue Foch West

Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu . . . The Bund

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