Previous Shanghai and Suzhou Index Next

Shanghai Bund Key 上海滩

The Bund - Picture Guide to Historic Buildings

A view of the Huangpu River and the Bund taken from the Jinmao Tower. If you zoom in on the Huangpu River, among the barges you will be able to see the original names of the buildings of the Bund and the date they were built. The next page will give you more detail of the center section.

Starting from the left:

Asiatic Petroleum Asian Oil Building or Asiatic Pertroleum Building or McBain Building - built in 1916. It is a seven story, reinforced concrete building with both baroque and classic touches. Ionic columns mark the entrance. That was quite a skyscraper for this area. In 1917, the building was acquired by the Asiatic Petroleum Company, a British company. In those days it was the second largest oil company in the world after Standard Oil, and accounted for a quarter of the Chinese market. After 1950, the building was occupied by the Shanghai Metallurgy Design Institute, a real estate management company, a silk company and finally in 1996 by the China Pacific Insurance Company.

Shanghai Club Shanghai Club - was built and opened in 1910 and had its grand opening in January 1911 with all the pomp and ceremony the old guard could provide. It was an exclusive men's club catering to the elite of Shanghai. Being a member did not imply equality. The Shanghai Club's most famous feature was the "longest" bar in the world. Made of mahogany, it was 110.7 feet or 34 meters on the long side and 39 feet or 11.9 meters on short end of the "L". It had to be that long so that members could stand by rank along its expanse. The big wigs were at one end and the wannabees at the other. Membership was open to merchants, high ranking police and military, and to compradores.

There are six marble pillars supporting the roof over the main hall, but upstairs there is a 300 square meter dining room without pillars. It had elevators and was lit with tungsten bulbs in American made Tungstolier brackets and chandeliers. Turrets mark its north and south ends. The building was designed by T. Tarrant of London. It replaced the original three story brick building dating from 1864. In 1956 the building housed the International Seamen's Club, in 1971 the Dongfeng Hotel, and between 1990 and 1996 it had a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Union Assurance Union Insurance Building - built in 1922 on the site of frame buildings which had housed Matheson's import and export business. In 1918, the site was purchased by two insurance companies that merged.

In 1937, the insurance company moved to Chongqing in face of the Japanese invasion and subsequently the building was taken over by the Merchantile Bank of India, London and China. At that time the name of the building was changed to 有利大楼 - Youli Dalou - Auspicious Tower. The building was constructed in the Renaissance style with great detail given to flourishes and decoration. There is a turret on one corner, which actually works quite well on the building. After 1949, the building was occupied by the Building Design Institute, the Shanghai Bureau of Geology and Minerology and now is a branch of a Singapore bank or investment company and the Shanghai Gallery of Art.

Nishin Navigation Nishin Navigation or Nisshin Kisen Kaisha Steamship Company formed in 1907 to combine smaller enterprises. It quickly became a major player in the Asian trade. The building was built in 1925 using Japanese style elements combined with modern concrete design. There is deep relief around the windows and under the eaves.

In 1937, the Nisshin company combined with other shipping companies to dominate trade in China. Following the war, the Allies split the company into smaller units and the Chinese nationalized the assets in China. The building was occupied by the Shanghai Haipeng Company, now called the Huaxia Bank. It also has a restaurant on the top floor, M on the Bund.

Russell & Co. China Merchants Bank Building is the one covered by green construction shrouding. On the next page you can zoom in to see a picture of the building on the bill board out front. It was built in 1886 or earlier and was the building of Messrs Russell & Company. In 1897, the Imperial China Bank was established. They acquired the building and in 1906 carried out extensive renovations to make it suitable for their purpose. The building is Victorian Gothic. The first two floors have French windows leading to balconies on the second floor. Awnings covered the windows on those two floors, striped on the front windows and plain on the side windows. The windows in the gables or dormers are fan shaped. The side gables and smaller spires were once topped off by a cross - long since demolished. The center gable had a round ball at its peak. The ridge of the main building and each dormer had a delicate ironwork fence.

The Imperial Bank modeled itself on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and conducted their early business in English. A consortium of banks was formed that became the Commercial Bank of China. In the 1920's, they expanded and bought the building next door which is now the Bangkok Bank.

By 2006, with the renovations complete, the building has been restored to all its glory. Even the tips of the of the gables have been restored.

Bangkok Bank The building was built in 1907 and bought later by the Commercial Bank of China. When they outgrew it, it was acquired by the Bangkok Bank. The Bangkok Bank was founded in Thailand in 1944 after the Japanese occupied Thailand and closed all of the foreign banks. In the 1950's, it began expanding to support the increasing Thai trade and opened branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere. The building is four stories in the Romanesque and classical styles. The architect used the suggestion of towers at the north and south sides to give the building more stature and strength. Suitably, the Royal Thai Consulate General now occupies the third floor and they have a nice picture of the building on their web site.

China Merchants Steamship Company The three story red brick or granite building was built for an English business in 1901. The second and third floors have windows that are recessed from the front of building by the balcony structure. Inside the building there was a winding staircase with fine flower carvings on the parapet. For most of its life, it was occupied by the China Merchants Steamship Company. After 1949, the harbor master was stationed here. Recently, the British Counsel had offices here, but they have moved. A Taiwanese fashion designer has a boutique here and several businesses concerned with shipping have offices.

HSBC Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank built this building in 1923 to replace their previous home on the Bund. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank or HSBC was founded in 1865. Their first office was on Nanjing Road, but they moved to the Bund in 1873. The building is symmetrical with classic ionic pillars and a central 7 story domed section on the five story building. Two wings extend back toward another building, which was built as part of the complex. The courtyard in the center gives light to the interior rooms. It is one of the best Palmer and Turner buildings and reflected the commitment of the bank to a developing China. The two lions at the entrance were even named for the bank managers of the Hong Kong and Shanghai branches: Stephen and Stitt. They were designed by W. W. Wagstaff and poured by Zhou Yinxing.

The bank continued to finance trade during the 20's and 30's but also finance many public and private industrial and infrastructure projects. In 1941, the Japanese occupied Hong Kong and Shanghai and many of the personnel were made prisoners of war. Following the war, the bank began working to rebuild Hong Kong and China. Following the civil war in China, the bank concentrated its efforts on financing Hong Kong and the larger Asian region. In 1949, the building became the Shanghai headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and between 1955 and 1995 it housed the offices of the Shanghai Government. Today it is the home of the Pudong Development Bank. It is also the home of the Norwegian and Spanish Consulates. Replicas of the two lions were cast and returned to their guard posts near the doors in 1997. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank built a new tower in the Pudong district. It is 46 floors and 203.4 meters tall.

Customs House The Customs House was built in 1927. At that time trade was burgeoning and a massive structure was planned, the last in a series of customs houses on the site. The side we see, facing the Huangpu River, is eight stories while the clock tower is eleven stories, a height of 90 meters. It is just a bit shorter than the Park Hotel, which held the "tallest building" prize until 1983. The second section is five stories tall and the building surrounds a courtyard.

The clock has four sides and chimes the hour. It was made in London and shipped for an earlier version of the Customs House. The architects, Palmer and Turner designed the present building to show it off. The building is in the neoclassical style with strong straight lines. Doric columns are used in the reinforced concrete design. The strong vertical lines are relieved by eaves at the first and third stories and again near the top. The Customs House is still used for that function today.

China Bank of Communications In 1880 several German banks formed a joint bank with Chinese businessmen. The Deutsch-Asiatische Bank occupied 4 small buildings at this location on the Bund. When World War I broke out, Japan declared war on Germany two weeks after Germany declared war on France and Russia. Japan demanded all of Germany's position in China. Within three months the Japanese were in possession of the German holdings in Shantung. Two months after that they presented the notorious five demands to the Chinese government. For our story, the result was that in 1919 at the end of the war, the China Bank of Communication took over the holdings of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank.

The China Bank of Communications had been founded in 1908 and opened a branch in Shanghai the same year. The bank specialized in financing projects related to postal services, telecommunications, railroads, highways and shipping. Their business grew rapidly during the growth years under the Republic and in 1937 they began plans for a new building. This was put on hold during the occupation during the Anti-Japanese war but was pulled off the shelf after liberation and completed in 1948. It was the last building to be completed on the Bund before 1949.

The building is a wonderful example of Art-Deco, combining the modern with traditional Chinese symmetry. It is an 8 story concrete frame construction. Black marble was used to frame the doors. The entire building was air-conditioned. The building is now used by the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions.

Russo-Asiatic Bank The Russo-Asiatic Bank was built in 1901. Although it is only three stories, it was the first to install an elevator. The building is classic French architecture with great detail given to sculptured decorations. The tops of the columns and the eaves under the roof had figures representing Western mythology. The base is granite, and tiles were used to surface the light sections of the exterior walls. This was unique in this era. Inside, the front hall is three stories tall and is topped with a stained-glass ceiling. A white marble staircase leads to the second floor where there are further sculpted reliefs on the walls.

Established in 1896, the Russo-Asiatic Bank was the first joint-venture bank in China, combining Chinese, Russian, and French investors. In 1926, the bank failed and was acquired by the Central Bank of China, founded by Sun Yat-sen. Presently, the building is occupied by Chinese Foreign Exchange and Trade Center and Shanghai Space Aeronautics Bureau.

Bank of Taiwan The Bank of Taiwan was established in 1899 when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. They soon established branches to support trade throughout Asia. The present building replaced an earlier building in 1924. The architecture is Japanese modern with touches of western influence. The windows are particularly interesting, with small lights above the long rectangular main panes. Each section is then detailed with vertical and horizontal mullions set in from the sash. The design is both Art-Deco and Chinese/Japanese. The building is now the China Merchants Bank.

North China Daily The "North China Daily News" first began publishing in 1850. It was the first English newspaper in Shanghai. It was originally a weekly called the "North China Herald" but in 1864 it changed its name and began publishing daily issues. The founder, Henry Shearman, saw Shanghai as becoming the trading center it is today and started the newspaper to complement that effort. A major portion of the paper was devoted to shipping news. In 1901 it moved to the Bund and in 1921 began construction of its new headquarters. They were completed in February 1924 and include Baroque towers, Renaissance relief sculpture, classic pillars, and a modern concrete frame structure. The surface of the first seven floors is faced with granite. The bottom two floors use a rough hewn granite to give the appearance of large stones. Originally two goddesses flanked the marble entrance but they didn't survive the Cultural Revolution. The "Daily News" stopped publishing in 1951. The building was then used by the River Maritime Board, China Silk, and others. In 1996 the building was refurbished and became the Shanghai branch of AIA, an American insurance company. The big tasteless red letters you see at the top of the building are AIA's.

Chartered Bank The Chartered Bank was founded by James Wilson in England who received the charter from Queen Victoria in 1853. It opened its Shanghai branch in 1858. In 1892 they bought the property of a failed bank on the Bund and moved into a brick and frame English style building. The present building was complete in 1923. It is a concrete frame building, faced with granite with rough hewn granite on the first floor. Two Ionic columns are framed by dark windows that give the building height. The side windows have balconies, rought iron on the second floor and concrete on the third. There are relief sculptures on the top floor to the sides of the windows.

In 1927, The Chartered Bank bought the P & O Bank which also had offices on the Bund and in 1937 merged the operations. The Chartered Bank merged with the Standard Bank in 1969 and became the Standard Chartered Bank. They have moved to the Pudong district.

Palace Hotel This was the site of the Central Hotel founded in 1903 in a three story English-style brick building. In 1906 construction began on the present six story Renaissance style building and completed in 1908. It changed its name to Palace Hotel. It is a brick and wood structure. The Baroque towers had a pavilion and roof garden but those were destroyed by a fire in 1914. As the finest hotel in Shanghai, it had many famous visitors, but the most historic visit came from Sun Yat-sen in December 1911, when he was provisional president. He addressed supporters and worked to gather momentum for the new republic. In 1965, the hotel became the South Wing of the Peace Hotel, which is the next building, just across Nanjing Road.

Cathay Hotel The Sassoon Mansion housed the Cathay Hotel, several dining rooms, 3 or 4 floors of office space and Victor Sassoon's penthouse. Designed by Palmer and Turner for Victor Sassoon, construction began in 1926 and finished in 1929. The main building is thirteen stories, topped by a 10m copper pyramid roof. The building itself is reinforced concrete and Palmer and Turner chose strong liner forms for a modern look. The lower floors have a granite surface while from the ninth floor terra-cotta tile was used. The section devoted to the Cathay Hotel had rooms decorated in the luxury of different cultures. Germany, India, Spain and Japan were on the fifth floor, France, Italy and American were on the sixth, and the entire seventh floor was decorated in the style of England. Later the building was called The Cathay Hotel.

Today, it and the Palace Hotel continue operations under the name "Peace Hotel."

Bank of China The Bank of China was originally set up under the Qing dynasty as its household bank, and it was later called the Qing Bank. In 1912, after the revolution, the name was changed to the Bank of China with headquarters in Beijing and a branch in Shanghai on Hankou Road. In 1923 it moved to the German Concordia Club building, a baroque three story building on the Bund. In 1928, the bank made Shanghai their headquarters, and in 1934 approved designs jointly created by Lu Qianshou and Palmer and Turner for the new building.

The building has steel frame construction and is covered with Jinshan stone. The modernism is relieved by the hollowed out decorative "longevity" characters on either side of the main panel. The building has a pyramid roof surrounded by a concrete railing with traditional flowers and lattice patterns. In addition, there is a four story annex running along Jinkee Road (now called Dianchi Road). The basement contained over 10,000 of what were then the most modern safe-deposit boxes. The cornerstone was laid in 1936 by the then chairman of the bank, Song Ziwen 宋子文 (T. V. Soong). It was finished in 1937, but unfortunately, that is just when the Anti-Japanese War began and the bank didn't move into its new headquarters until 1946.

Yokoham Specie Bank The Yokohama Specie Bank is another Palmer and Turner design. It was built on the site of David Sassoon's 1845 building which was sold to the Japanese bank in 1920. Construction on the new building began in 1923 and finished in 1924. Following the WWII, the Bank of China confiscated the assets of the bank and the building housed the Shanghai Textile Industry Bureau.

The building is faced with granite, with the first floor being rough hewn. The classical style uses Ionic columns above the entryway. The ledge above the columns creates a horizontal roof line that includes the top floor. .

Yangtze Insurance The Yangtze Water and Fire Insurance Company was founded in 1863. In 1891, the company collapsed but Yangzte Insurance survived as an independent company. The company was taken over by the Japanese in 1941.

The Yangtze Insurance Building was planned in 1917, begun in 1918, and completed in 1920. The building is designed to be functional and modern. It is reinforced concrete with a granite veneer. The first two floors have rough hewn granite with strong horizontal lines created by the joins of of the stones. On the sixth floor, Ionic columns are used at the top above a ledge to give lightness to the design. The roof line is unusual - darker granite was used and the seventh floor is recessed behind a delicate concrete railing. After 1949, the building housed Shanghai Foodstuffs Import and Export.

Jardine and Matheson Jardine Matheson was founded in 1832 by William Jardine and James Matheson. They were the first private company to ship tea to England but their biggest profits in the early years came from the opium trade between India and China. They opened a branch in Shanghai in 1844 immediately after the Treaty of Nanking forced the Chinese to open the port to foreigners. The same year they adopted the Chinese name "Ewo" meaning "happy harmony." Opium continued to be the major import to exchange for goods until 1870. Gradually, Jardine Matheson diversified into shipping, warehouses, mining, textiles, and railroads.

After 1912, the headquarters for Jardine Matheson were in Shanghai. In 1920, construction began on a new building and finished in 1922. Originally the building was five stories, but in 1982 an additional two stories were added. The building is neo-classical with Corinthian columns running through the third to the fifth level. Reinforced concrete was used with a granite veneer. The interior entry was paved with marble. Jardine Matheson left China in 1954. The building became the Shanghai Foreign Trade Commission Building.

Jardine Matheson maintained their central offices in Hong Kong and in 1984 incorporated in Bermuda. Today it is an international company and is again active in Shanghai and China through its many divisions.

Across Beijing Road, the Glen Line building can just be seen at the edge of the picture. Originally the site of the Western Steamship Line Company, the Glen Line building was completed in 1922. The P & O Bank operated from the building. It is a seven story, reinforced concrete structure in the Renaissance style. The bottom two stories are faced with granite.

During WWII, the Bank of Japan occupied the bottom floors and the Germans had their consulate there. At the end of the war, the building was used by the U.S. military and the United States Information Service. After 1949, the Shanghai People's Radio station used the building.

Not Shown -The Banque de L'Indo-Chine used French Renaissance architecture in its 1910 building. Three tall arches in the Baroque style are the centerpiece of this symmetrical building. After 1949, it became a branch of the China Everbright Bank.

-Office of the Japanese steamship line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha.

-The British Consulate occupied several buildings in a complex of residences and office buildings.

-The Broadway Mansions was begun in 1930 and completed in 1934. The style is modern cubist, emphasized by the use of red granite facings on the botton floors and brown terra cotta above. It was designed as luxury apartments, was occupied by the Japanese military police, became a hotel and has some of the best views of the Bund from its balconies.

-The Bund Observatory or signal station was built in 1907, replacing a building dating to 1884. In 1993, it was relocated and contains a museum.

-Suzhou Creek (Soochow Creek) marks the official end of the Bund. On the other side of the Suzhou Creek are the Northern and Eastern Districts where the United States had its concession.

China Index >> Shanghai, Bund, and Pudong >> The Bund, Shanghai

Click on a picture or use the arrows at the top to navigate through the site.
Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007