The Bund or Waitan is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centers on a section of Zhongshan Road (East Zhongshan Road No.1) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. From the 1860s to the 1930s, it was the rich and powerful center of the foreign establishment in Shanghai, operating as a legally protected treaty port.
The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprang up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial center of east Asia. Directly to the south, and just northeast of the old walled city, the former French Bund (the quai de France, part of the Shanghai French Concession) was of comparable size to the Bund but functioned more as a working harbourside.
By the 1940s, the Bund housed the headquarters of many, if not most, of the major financial institutions operating in China, including the “big four” national banks in the Republic of China era. However, with the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war, many of the financial institutions were moved out gradually in the 1950s, and the hotels and clubs closed or converted to other uses. The statues of colonial figures and foreign worthies which had dotted the riverside were also removed.
The Bund stretches one mile (1.6 km) along the bank of the Huangpu River. Traditionally, the Bund begins at Yan’an Road (formerly Edward VII Avenue) in the south and ends at Waibaidu Bridge (formerly Garden Bridge) in the north, which crosses Suzhou Creek.
The Bund centres on a stretch of the Zhongshan Road, named after Sun Yat-sen. Zhongshan Road is a largely circular road which formed the traditional conceptual boundary of Shanghai city “proper”. To the west of this stretch of the road stands some 52 buildings of various Western classical and modern styles which is the main feature of the Bund. To the east of the road was formerly a stretch of parkland culminating at Huangpu Park. (This park is the site of the infamous sign reported to have proclaimed “no dogs or Chinese”, although this exact wording never existed. Further information, including an image of the sign, can be found at the article on Huangpu Park.) This area is now much reduced due to the expansion of Zhongshan Road. Further east is a tall levee, constructed in the 1990s to ward off flood waters. The construction of this high wall has dramatically changed the appearance of the Bund.
Near the Nanjing Road intersection stands what is currently the only bronze statue along the Bund. It is a statue of Chen Yi, the first Communist mayor of Shanghai. At the northern end of The Bund, along the riverfront, is Huangpu Park, in which is situated the Monument to the People’s Heroes – a tall, abstract concrete tower which is a memorial for those who died during the revolutionary struggle of Shanghai dating back to the First Opium War.
The Bund is not just a place for tourists but is also a great place for the local people to do their morning exercises. If you wake up early, you can go to the Bund and watch the locals practicing tai chi, jogging, and more. It is a way to experience the real lifestyle of the local people.