Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:18 AM
Name and history
The name "Waibaidu" is closely tied to Shanghai history, with a total of four bridges, always at the same location, having borne that name. Before bridges were built on the Suzhou Creek, citizens had to use ferries. There were three ferry crossings, one near Zhapu Road, one at Jiangxi Road and one near the mouth of the Suzhou River. With Shanghai becoming an international trade port through the Treaty of Nanjing and foreign powers being granted concessions in the city, traffic between both sides of Suzhou River soared in the 1850s, increasing the need for a bridge close to the mouth of the river.
The Wales Bridges
In 1856, a British businessman named Wales built a first, wooden bridge at the location of the outermost ferry crossing to ease traffic between the British Settlement to the south, and the American Settlement to the north of Suzhou River. This bridge, 137.2 metres long and 7 metres wide, was called "Wales Bridge" in English. It was a draw bridge, the middle part being raised whenever a ship needed to pass. Foreigners could cross for free, but the local Chinese had to pay a toll for the bridge.
The Chinese name of the structure Waibaidu Bridge alludes to both this fact and the position of the bridge, 外白渡 (pinyin: Wàibáidù) literally meaning either "Outer ferry crossing" or "Foreigners cross for free".
The local population regarded Wales' toll policy as yet another of many restrictions for Chinese people by foreign powers. They responded with protest and boycotted the bridge. With profits for the wooden bridge decreasing, Wales built a new, iron bridge in 1871, which collapsed soon however due to constructional faults.
Wooden Garden Bridge
In August 1873, the Shanghai Municipal Council resolved the situation by constructing a new bridge several metres west of Wales' original wooden bridge, to be opened to the public only one month later. In October in the same year, Wales sold the old bridge to authorities and it was destroyed soonthereafter.
Due to its proximity to Public Garden at the northern end of the Bund, the new bridge was called "Garden Bridge" in English, or "Free Ferry Bridge", because there was no toll anymore. This wooden floating bridge was 100 metres long and 12 metres wide.
The current bridge
Waibaidu Bridge became a place of infamy for many Chinese residents in 1937, when the Japanese had invaded Chinese quarters of the city (north to Suzhou river), but left the International Settlement (south to the river) untouched at first. Japanese soldiers on both sides of the bridge would stop any Chinese, humiliate them and punish them if they hadn't shown proper respect, while foreigners were allowed to pass. This only changed after the Japanese took all of Shanghai in the aftermath of the attack on Peal Harbor in 1941.
Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:22 AM
Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:24 AM
Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:27 AM
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