Historic Shanghai’s Year in Review 2015

A look back on the tours, the talks, and that splendiferous World Congress on Art Deco that made up our 2015.

Tou-se-wei stained glass dragon

Stained glass dragon at the T’ou-se-wei orphanage, seen on our Easter Walking tour.

The Year in Numbers 

  • 14 tours
  • 25 World Congress tours
  • 5 talks
  • 21 World Congress talks

Top Blog Posts 

on Historic Shanghai & Shanghai Art Deco




Saturday January 10 /Walking Tour: Inside a Lilong – An Anthropologist’s View, with Non Arkaraprasertkul & Jie Li

Historic Shanghai-Lilong Tour-2015 01 10

Non (right) and Jie Li (left) take us on a lilong tour.


Non Arkaraprasertkul is an anthropologist who lived for some time in the tingzijian – pavilion room – of a Jing’an district lane house to conduct his fieldwork.

We toured Non’s lilong, met some of the residents, and heard about his research and insights.

Joining Non on this walk was Jie Li, author of Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Lives, who had spoken to us on December 6 2014 about her book, a look at two specific longtangs, exploring private lives and family histories.



Sunday January 18 /Walking Tour: Avenue Joffre Art Deco

Group-Fuxing 750

Our January French Concession tour had the advantage of bare branches and excellent building views!

We kicked off 2015 with a terrific new walking tour that took us from the origins of Art Deco in Shanghai, the former Cercle Sportif Français, through the streets of the former French Concession. We took in the apartment houses, residences, cinemas, Art Deco lilongs and even the famous Jai Alai building (previously thought to have been demolished).

For the tour report, click here. 

Saturday January 31 /Talk: China and the World in 1900: Tale of Foreign Fighters, Boxer Bandits and Buffalo Bill with Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Wassersrtom-Boxers-2015 01 31

Professor Jeffrey Wassertrom on China in 1900, and the Boxer Rebellion. What was it about this particular uprising that captured the popular imagination? With some excellent visuals, Wasserstrom showed how the Boxers left a deep legacy on popular culture – all the way from Buffalo Bill to 55 Days in Peking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer!


Saturday February 7 /Tour: Shanghai’s Lost Chinese Art Deco City 

2015 02 07 Jiangwan tour-team photo

The Historic Shanghai team photo in front of the old City Hall.

A very special trip to the rarely visited Greater Shanghai Plan buildings, conceived by Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists in 1927 as a new, proudly Chinese administrative city centre surrounded by the foreign settlements, and executed by Dong Dayou in the Chinese Art Deco/Ming Revival style. We visited City Hall, the stadium, the Natatorium, the gymnasium, the museum, the library, the hospital — and, of course, the airplane building!

For the blog post on the Lost Chinese Art Deco City, click here. 


Sunday March 8Book Talk: The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China


In this fascinating talk, military historian David Silbey drew on the diaries and letters of allied soldiers and diplomats to describe the Boxer Rebellion, one of the first global crises, reported (almost) live as it happened.  Silbey focused on the Boxers themselves and the soldiers of the western nations whom they fought, uncovering the ground level military reality of the rebellion.

Saturday March 21 /Walking Tour: Across the Garden Bridge: Art Deco Hongkou

Bridge House lobby-350

The infamous Bridge House in Hongkou, the city’s most notorious Japanese prison.

We explored the hidden architectural gems— Art Deco and otherwise — across the Garden Bridge in Hongkou District, from Broadway Mansions, where the original Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club watched the Communist victory, to Victor Sassoon’s sprawling apartment complex, to the Capitol Theatre, Chinese-American architect Poy Gum Lee’s Art Deco hotel, the Japanese secret police’s infamous “Bridge House”, and many more!










Saturday April 4 /Walking Tour: Easter Walk – Jesuits in Shanghai

April-Easter Walk

One of Historic Shanghai’s two Easter Walk groups in front of St. Ignatius Cathedral.

On Easter weekend, we explored the remarkable legacy of the Jesuits in Shanghai, in the beautiful buildings that still stand: St. Ignatius Cathedral and convent, the “Biblioteca Ziccawei” – the Jesuit library, modeled on the Vatican — an Observatory, schools and an orphanage.

Sunday April 11 /Walking Tour: Historic Shanghai’s Classic Bund Walk

April-Bund Walk

Historic Shanghai team photo with the Bank of China lions.

The histories and mysteries of Shanghai’s signature sight were revealed on one of the favorite Historic Shanghai tours, the classic Bund walk — first conducted by Historic Shanghai in 1999!


Friday May 1 /Walking Tour: Workers of the World, Unite! The Revolutionary Shanghai Tour 

May-Revolutionary WalkOn May 1, the day on which we celebrate the working class, we took a walk Hthrough Shanghai’s revolutionary roots, telling the story of the epic drama of China’s path to revolution and Shanghai’s place in it,  the fascinating characters who plotted it, and the places where they lived, worked, and made revolution.

Saturday May 30, Sunday May 31 /Art Deco Weekend 3

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Patrick Cranley and the Art Deco Weekend 3 walking tour group.

The third edition of Art Deco Weekend Shanghai, our warm-up for the World Congress on Art Deco in November, featured two days of talks, walks & outings in the former French Concession. Highlights included journalist Maureen Fan on her grandfather, architect Robert Fan Wenzhao, Katya Knyazeva on the Russian heart of the former French Concession, and walks taking in the rich Art Deco heritage of the former French Concession.


Saturday June 13 /Book Talk: Tea on the Great Wall – An American Girl in War-Torn China A memoir of old Shanghai

June-Patricia Luce Chapman

Scenes from our Skype talk with Patricia Luce Chapman.

Patricia Luce Chapman joined us via Skype to tell us about growing up in Shanghai, in a house designed by Hudec, going to Victor Sassoon’s fancy dress parties, summering in Weihaiwei — and growing up with the fear and uncertainty of a changing world, as Nazi flags went up at school, Japanese warships crowd the harbor and emaciated opium addicts crowded the streets. It was a special treat to have Mrs. Chapman speak to us here — and then join us for the World Congress on Art Deco in November!




Saturday/Sunday, July4-5 /Deco on the Road: The Nanking Decade: Art Deco in the Southern Capital, 1927-1937

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The “Deco on the Road: Nanjing” group at Meiyuan.

Our Deco on the Road travel partner, Bespoke Shanghai, organized a road trip to explore the Art Deco of the southern capital: architecture and the stories behind Republican-era (1927-1937) Nanjing, from Ming Revival on the campus of Nanjing University, to Art Deco buildings in southern Nanjing, beautiful tree-lined residential neighborhoods and the stunning villa on the hill built for the glamorous Soong Mei Ling.

More Deco on the Road in 2016 with Bespoke and Historic Shanghai – stay tuned! 

Sunday, July 12 /Walking Tour: Vive la France, vive la Concession!

WATCH: French Concession tour video

We debuted a new French Concession walking tour in honor of France’s National Day (“Bastille Day”) with a stroll through the memories, mansions, and messieurs et madames of the former French Concession. We visited the apartment buildings where they lived; the historic schools and universities they left behind, the churches where they worshipped, and the parks and stadiums where they played — and heard stories of their great contributions and infamous scandals.

Sunday July 19 /Tour: Discovering Jewish Shanghai 

WATCH: Jewish Shanghai video

We toured Shanghai’s fascinating Jewish history, from the Sephardic Jewish traders and businessmen who arrived from Baghdad and India as Shanghai opened to trade, and became the legendary tycoons who built the city; to the White Russian Jews who were fleeing from the Bolsheviks, and the European Jews seeking safe haven as the Nazis rose to power.  We visited mansions and synagogues, apartment houses and lane neighborhoods, and discovered the legacy of Jewish Shanghai all around us.

Sunday July 26Tour: Red Shanghai: The Red Army in Shanghai 

In honor of the 88th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army, Historic Shanghai debuted a new tour, journeying through the story of the People’s Liberation Army in Shanghai, visiting the war memorials and mansions, and revisiting the battles on the road to capturing Shanghai.


September 19 /Tour: A Taste of Shanghai’s Art Deco

WATCH: Shanghai Art Deco walking tour trailer

A preview of the best of Shanghai’s Art Deco throughout the city a unique walking and bus tour, covering five different neighborhoods, ahead of the World Congress on Art Deco in Shanghai.


November 1-6 /The World Congress on Art Deco Shanghai

WoCo Report

The Art Deco world came to Shanghai, and what a great time we had! Six days of walks, talks, parties, and entertainment that capped off a fabulous year.

For our World Congress on Art Deco Report, click here. 

WATCH: World Congress on Art Deco video.


Saturday December 12 /Tour: ‘Tis the Season: The Sacred Shanghai Holiday Season Tour

December Sacred-Group-Ohel-750

‘Tis the season! Our annual holiday season tour of the sacred landmarks of old Shanghai – churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and finished up with a look at the decorations on the Bund.

For upcoming events, click here.

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