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A walk to remember

By Xing Yi | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-14 09:59
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As of this year, the riverfronts on both sides of the Huangpu River are connected in a scenic 45-km trail that is open to the public. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Packed with elements of art, culture, history and nature, Shanghai's newly opened 45-kilometer waterfront trail along the Huangpu River is without doubt the city's latest landmark.

Almost every major metropolis in the world has a river that runs through it.

There is the River Thames in London, the Seine River in Paris, the Hudson River in New York and the Neva in St. Petersburg.

Shanghai is no exception. Dividing the city into two halves, Puxi and Pudong, is the Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River that extends to the East China Sea. The water body is also affectionately called Shanghai's "Mother River" by residents. After all, the river has throughout history been a significant part in the city's rapid development.

From the late 19th to the early 20th century, the Huangpu River was where shipyards, factories, warehouses and banks sprouted, fueling Shanghai's transformation from a sleepy backwater into a vibrant trading hub.

At the turn of the new millennium, Shanghai began the restructuring of its core industries, marking the shift in focus to service and financial industries. This was also the time when the local government started to rethink the river's role in society.

The plan to transform the riverfront into a public green space was listed in the city's development plans for 1999-2020. The ambitious plan was again included in the city's three-year action plan for building public spaces along the river between 2015 and 2017. Some of the docks and warehouses from the past gradually disappeared from the landscape and were replaced by riverside parks and walking trails. Some factories along the river were renovated into art galleries.

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