Essential Architecture- The Bund, Shanghai

Garden Bridge

presently Waibaidu Bridge

architect

 

location

On Suzhou Creek in central Shanghai, connecting the Huangpu and Hongkou districts where the Suzhou River flows into the Huang Pu in Shanghai, China.

date

1907

style

 

construction

steel

type

Bridge
 
  The Garden Bridge in front of the Broadway Mansions (left) and View to the Bund (right).
 
  Garden Bridge and Broadway Mansion Hotel Shanghai
 
  View to Hongkou
 
  Wooden Garden Bridge
 
Waibaidu Bridge (Chinese: 外白渡桥; pinyin: Wàibáidù Qiáo), called Garden Bridge in English, is a steel bridge on Suzhou Creek in central Shanghai, connecting the Huangpu and Hongkou districts where the Suzhou River flows into the Huang Pu.

The present bridge is a steel truss bridge with two spans. It is 106.7 metres long and spans 52.16 metres. There are currently three north bound lanes with a total width of 11.2 metres, and two pedestrian walkways each with a width of 3.6 metres. It was the first true steel bridge in China and the only surviving example of camelback truss bridge in China.

With its rich history and unique design, the centennial Waibaidu Bridge is one of the symbols of Shanghai and its modern and industrial image, and may be regarded as the city's trademark bridge.

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

The original Garden Bridge was demolished in 1906 and a new bridge was constructed. This fourth "Waibadu Bridge" and second "Garden Bridge", finished in 1907, is the current structure known under these names, the largest steel bridge in Shanghai.

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.

In the 1980s to 1990s the traffic volume on the Bund increased dramatically, and the then 90-year-old Waibaidu Bridge could no longer cope. In 1991, a new road bridge was constructed to the west of Waibaidu Bridge and the river crossing traffic was mainly diverted onto the new bridge.

Nevertheless, Waibaidu Bridge remains a popular sight of Shanghai and one of the few constants in the ever-changing metropolis. In mid-1999, extensive restoration works were carried out, and in 2007, the steel bridge celebrated its 100 year anniversary.

In March 2008, as part of an extensive reconfiguration of traffic flow along the Bund, Waibaidu Bridge was cut into two sections, detached from its pylons, and moved by boat into a shipyard for extensive repairs and restoration. The bridge will be rebuilt in its existing form in early 2009.[1] After the completion of the entire Bund reconfiguration project, the new concrete bridge built in 1991 will also be rendered obsolete by a new tunnel, and will be demolished, restoring the historical sightline from the Bund to the north bank of Suzhou Creek. The restoration work formally started on April 05, 2008. [http://news.chinatimes.com/2007Cti/2007Cti-News/2007Cti-News-Content/0,4521,110505+112008040600010,00.html 黃埔灘風情 移橋修繕 外白渡橋短暫消失 ] On 6th April, 2008, the southen part of the bridge was removed first and on 7th April, 2008, the northen part was removed as well. According to the authority, both parts will be reinstalled in 2009 after the reparation.

In the media
The most recent Waibaidu Bridge has been featured in a number of films and literary works.

Steven Spielberg's film Empire of the Sun shows Shanghai in 1941. In a scene reflecting the volatile atmosphere of these times, a British family can be seen passing the border post on Garden Bridge, around them the Chinese masses who are subject to the whim of the Japanese soldiers.

While Lou Ye's film Suzhou River mostly takes place west of Waibaidu Bridge, at the northern bank of present day Suzhou Creek, the bridge can be seen in the final scene when the camera races towards Huangpu River and modern Pudong.

links

http://web.utk.edu/~plee3/shanghai.html
http://www.simonfieldhouse.com/shanghai.htm
www.essential-architecture.com