Not to be confused with the Huangpu River, Suzhou Creek (or the Wusong River as it was once known) runs from the northern end of The Bund all the way to Suzhou. Historically it was an important trade route, and indeed plans are afoot to resurrect passenger ferry services between the two cities. Later it became significant as a dividing line between the British and American (and thenthe International and Japanese) Concessions. As a result, there’s a wealth of interesting architecture and historical landmarks along its banks.
The 50 kilometers of the Creek (as it’s known to local expats) that wind their way through Shanghai were once notoriously polluted; later they were lined with derelict factories and still choked with waste. But since the early ’90s, a massive rehabilitation project has sought to transform this once fetid waterway. There’s still some way to go, but with efforts stepped up for Expo 2010, the riverbank has become a genuinely pleasant place for a walk through some of the city’s most interesting districts.
Walking west from Huangpu Park at the very mouth of the river, you pass first under the famous Waibaidu Bridge, while off to the right is the Astor House Hotel, once described as the most luxurious in the world. A short way further on, and the art deco grandeur of the Shanghai Postal Museum lights up the northern bank. It goes on like this for miles: past the Embankment Building and Broadway Mansions, to the Sihang Warehouse (site of a famous battle in the Sino-Japanese war), and eventually to Moganshan Lu, a thrilling example of how many of these old Creek-side warehouses have been put to new use.
The pathway is not unbroken, and some stretches are more appealing than others, but it’s certainly an interesting alternative to any manufactured city tour. Also worthy of your time: the film of the same name, which tells a tragic late 90s love story against the then gritty backdrop of the Creek.