上海老城厢 Shànghăi Lăo Chéngxiāng
Shanghainese - Zånhae Loh Senshian
1. The Old City of Shanghai stands on the site of a relatively small settlement in ancient times, which began to develop in importance in the 12th and 13th century due to the siltation of waterways further upstream, causing dock and market activities to move from larger upstream towns to this location.
2. In 1267, in the Song Dynasty, Shanghai was raised to township status, with a military garrison, within Huating County. In 1277, Shanghai township was chosen as the location of one of seven customs authorities across the empire to handle overseas trade; the surrounding Huating County was raised to prefecture level. The location of the customs office (which later became the office of Shanghai's county government), became a center around which the Old City grew.
3. In 1292, when Shanghai gained county status, the Old City became the seat of the new county. Under the Qing, it also became the seat of the local circuit and its administration headed by an intendant ("taotai").
4. The boundary of the Old city was formerly defined by a defensive wall, built in 1554 during Ming Dynasty, in order to protect the town from raids by Japanese pirates. It measured 10 metres (33 ft) high and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) in circumference. In addition to the local garrison, the city was surrounded by Qing army posts at Jiangning (Nanjing), Jingkou (Zhenjiang), Hangzhou, and Zhapu.
There were originally six land gates (over roads) built into the structure, and three water gates (over canals. A protective moat surrounded the wall, 20 metres (66 ft) wide and 6 metres (20 ft) deep, which was accessed though three "Water Gates" (two in the east, one in the west).
The walls were demolished in 1912, and a broad circular avenue built over the former wall and moat: the southern half was named the "Zhonghua Road" and the northern half the "Minguo Road" (together making up "Zhonghua Minguo", or "Republic of China" in Chinese). The northern half was renamed "Renmin Road" ("People's Road") in 1950 by the new Communist government of Shanghai).
5 .In 1927, in a bid to establish a tangible Chinese authority in Shanghai, the Republic of China government established the Special Municipality of Shanghai. The municipal government was moved out of the Old City to near Xujiahui. In 1928, Shanghai City (the Old City) was reduced to district status under the Special Municipality.
6 . From 1928, the Old City was Hunan District; "Hunan" literally meant "southern Shanghai". In 1937, the collaborationist puppet government under Japanese occupation renamed the district "Nanshi" (literally the "southern city"). In 1945, upon recovering Shanghai at the end of World War II, the Republic of China government split Nanshi district into Yimiao District and Penglai District. In 1959, the People's Republic of China government re-combined the two districts into Nanshi District. (Between 1961 and 1993, the docklands on the Pudong (eastern) side of the river was part of Nanshi District.) In 2000, Nanshi District was merged into Huangpu District, thus ending the separate existence of the Old City as an administrative division.
7 . Today the Old City contains some ancient but renovated features, such as the Yuyuan Garden complex, and the City God Temple. Its circular shape is now imprinted by the surrounded large streets which occupy the space of the former walls, now Renmin Road to the North and Zhonghua Road to the South. The Old City has also been cut in the middle North to South by Henan Road. The Old City is a combination of ancient winding streets, with some modern high-rise buildings progressively encroaching on the older areas.
8. In 2006, the Shanghai municipal government enacted the Protection Plan for the Old City Historical Cultural Scenery Area. Under the plan, the entirety of the Old City is protected as a Historical cultural Scenery Area. 34 streets, including Dajing Road and West Fangbang Road are specifically protected as "scenery protected laneways".
Sadly, a large scale demolition of the Old City is continuing...