Shanghai Nights : Stories 

Shanghai at 9pm yesterday evening. The coldest night of the year with temperatures plunging well below zero. Combine this with biting winds from Siberia and it’s easy to understand why I had the Bund and bridge to myself at this relatively early hour.  

The building on the left is Shanghai Mansions. Art Deco.  Circa 1935.  There are so many anecdotal tales about this imposing, batlike structure; here are two of the less well known …

  • In 1938, all fifty-eight licensed opium hongs in Shanghai had to pick up their opium requisitions from the Opium Suppression Bureau on the fifth floor of  Broadway Mansions. 
  • French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson – father of modern photojournalism and co-founder of Magnum Photos – lived in Broadway Mansions for a year from the middle of 1949, covering the fall of the Nationalist government and the creation of the People’s Republic of China.

The bridge on the right is Waibaidu. Completed in 1907.  Squat, grey and singularly unattractive yet strangely compelling (a bit like the city itself). As with Broadway Mansions, the bridge has many stories to tell. Here are two:

  • The final (or lowest) stage for a courtesan in Shanghai in the 1930s was known as “walking the Garden Bridge”, which involved soliciting on the bridge.
  • During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, Red Guards renamed the bridge –  giving it the highly original appellation of Anti-Imperialism Bridge.


Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens, tripod-mounted and set to Bulb: f/22, 45 seconds and ISO 50.


After a long walk along the Suzhou river with my personal tour guide, Xiao Ma Er, we stopped at the WaiBaiDu Bridge.  It’s famous bridge for various movies and pictures.  Suddenly! Some photographers ask to take our pictures, and we start modeling for them.  They love it so much, they keep taking more and more photos.  It was definitely a hilarious ending to the afternoon.  

Afterwards, I snagged a pic of one of the photographers

Shanghai Nights : Morning Shanghai

The restaurant called Morning Shanghai in the Astor House Hotel, viewed through the steel girders of the luridly illuminated Garden Bridge late last night.


Canon 90mm tilt-shift lens. Manual:  f/32, 17 seconds at ISO 100.