On a brisk but sunny day in 2016 December, Mei and I had a list of objectives for our afternoon walk: new books for her, a visit to the Waitan, and some camera tests. This brought us to Fuzhou Lu (福州路).
Though this street is in what was once the British concession, an area which tends to emphasize larger buildings and wider streets, it’s also lined by leafy London plane trees (Platanus × acerifolia), which are common in the former French concession to the east.
No sooner do we finish lunch than we’re distracted by a toy store with a great window display on the way.
I kind of want the Haruhi and Mikuru figures, but we said we were looking for books—so we should go look for books.
I’ve been taking photographs in Shanghai since we moved here at the end of 2014, but in the beginning I found the colors were not popping off the monitor the way I expected. After a few times that I happened to go out on an especially clean air day, I realized the pollution both diffuses light and filters out parts of the visible light spectrum, which makes colors dull and hazy. Beginning in 2016 Spring, we’ve noticed significant and persistent improvements in air quality, corroborated by official data. We’re thankful for the better air—and colors.
The facade of the Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore has been renovated with modern materials, so it’s not apparent until you step inside that the interior has preserved much of the building’s Art Deco fixtures and architectural elements.
The central staircase is especially wonderful.
The HSBC Building, which now houses the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, and the Custom House, which still fulfills this function, watch over the Waitan. The clock and bell mechanisms are copies of those in Big Ben and originally played “Westminster Quarters”. The Chinese government later ordered the music be changed to “The East is Red” (东方红), but because the bells can’t play this, recorded music is played over loudspeakers in the tower. Mei and I are learning about our new home, a few buildings at a time.
Up on the promenade, my camera assistant watches over things while I collect some test footage. My Canon 5D Mark III has been with me since I first started blogging about neighborhoods over five years ago. I’m trying to see if Magic Lantern, open source firmware that adds functionality, particularly for video, will allow me to use it as a documentary film tool.
Say qiezi, Pudong!