Living china>Shanghai>Out and about

Parking it in Shanghai
By Denele Ivins (City Weekend)
Updated: 2004-01-17 13:41

We have chosen, and may prefer, life in the big city, but even the most urbane of the urbanites gets an occasional hankering for green open spaces. The next time you long for a day outdoors, look no further than the urban jungle you wish to escape.

Dotting the map of Shanghai, an astounding 125 parks cover a total of 1,207 hectares of land.

Inch by Inch: The Green is Growing
With a noticeable explosion in green space, the city recently announced plans to apply for the title of "China's Garden City." At the end of 2001, there was 5.6 square meters of green space per capita. A spokesman for the Shanghai Landscaping Administration Bureau estimates the figure will increase to 6.5 square meters by the end of this year, and the bureau's goal is to reach an all-new high of more than seven square meters per capita by the end of 2003. Fifty years ago, the city only had 0.16 square meters of green space per capita.

Shanghai's green space is growing not only in area, but also in accessibility. At Zhongshan Park, the walls were torn down and a stretch of fence was moved back, making a section of the park free to the public.

A full 80 percent of the city's parks are small neighborhood parks, and 54 percent have no walls at all - and no admission fee - making them a natural place for the people to gather.

Large swaths of wall-less greenbelts are also appearing in the cityscape. The Yanzhong Greenbelt, which lies underneath the concrete intersection of the Yan'an and North-South elevated roads, is being expanded, and this week a new park is scheduled to open along Sichuan Bei Lu, making it the largest public green space along a commercial road in Shanghai.

The city's 125 parks are waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Autumn days are the best the local weatherman has to offer, so pack a picnic and park yourself among some of Shanghai's green acres.

The Classics

These older parks are grand spaces that offer something for everyone. Most districts have one or two.

Lu Xun Park 

Popularly called Hongkou Park for the district it lies in, this large park was established in 1905. It offers a small amusement park and a great inflatable playground for kids. Visitors will also find author Lu Xun's  Memorial Hall and acres of paths through a variety of terrains. On Sunday mornings the park hosts what may be the city's largest English Corner.
Address: 146 Dongjiang Wan Lu, Hongkou District 
Hours: 6:00-18:00

Zhongshan Park 

First named Jessfield Park after the Englishman who built it in 1914, the park boasts East China's largest plane tree. And just inside the gate is the city's biggest Fundazzle indoor play area for kids. Old men faithfully gather here to air their birds and play chess. Both the Pearl Line and the #2 subway line have stations outside the gate.
Address: 780 Changning Lu, Changning District
长 宁 路780 号, 长 宁 区
Hours: 6:00-17:00

Heping Park

The local press has given attention to this park for its teeming early morning life. By six in the morning the paths and fields are filled with the senior citizens of Hongkou and Yangpu districts taking their daily exercise. This June saw the beginning of a production called "Blue Sea Broadway", a spectacle of animal performances heavy on the broadway and light on the sea.
Address: 891 Tianbao Lu, Hongkou District
Hours: 5:30-18:30

Fuxing Park

In the heart of downtown, this park was first built in 1909 by the French community. A statue of Marx and Engels looks down on the French flower garden in the middle of the park.
Address: 105 Yandang Lu, Luwan District
Hours: 6:00-18:00

Changfeng Park

This park is home to Aquaria 21, which offers diving lessons. Also, every spring the park hosts an international flower show. It's located across the street from the East China Normal University.
Address: 25 Da Duhe Lu, Putuo District
Hours: 5:00-18:30

The Mammoths

These mammoth swaths of greenery have lawns on which park-goers can actually walk, play, and picnic.

Century Park

It earns the dual titles of "biggest" and "most modern" park. Covering more than 140 hectares, the park offers large expanses of unfenced lawn, making it a great place for picnics or kite flying. Take it all in on a rented tandem bike or pedal cart. Open now for more than two years, the signs promise mini-golf that has yet to materialize.
Address: 1001 Jinxiu Lu, Pudong
Hours: 7:00-18:00

Gongqing Forest Park

Situated along the Huangpu River in far northeast Shanghai, this is the city's second largest park. There are lots of open spaces navigable by foot, rental bike, or train. Bring your own meat, and rent a pit, skewers, and charcoal for a barbeque.
Address: 2000 Jungong Lu, Yangpu District
Hours: 6:00-17:00

Shanghai Botanical Gardens 

In one afternoon, you can stroll through a pine forest, rest among the bamboo groves, and stop and smell to smell the roses. These are just a few of the botanical specimens you'll see here.
Address:1100 Longwu Lu, Xuhui District
Hours: 6:00-18:00

The Extremes

Shaoxing Park 

With an area of only 2,400 square meters, this is Shanghai's smallest park.
Address:62 Shaoxing Lu, Luwan District

Hours: 6:00-18:00

Huangxing Park 

As Shanghai's newest park, this large greenland is surrounded by new residential buildings with quite a view.
Address: 699 Yingkou Lu or 369 Guoshun Dong Lu, Yangpu District

Huangpu Park 

This park lies at the far north end of the Bund and offers great photo ops of Pudong. The city's oldest park, it was designed by a Scottish gardener in 1868. The scaffolding is off the newly rebuilt Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Bund Historical Museum is here.
Address: Zhong Shan Bei Yi Lu at the Bund
Hours: 9:00-17:00


Things to do in Shanghai's  parks:

· People-watch from a bench
· Join the crowd and walk backwards
· Race remote-controlled boats in the pond
· Take off your shoes and walk on the stone massage path
· Fly a kite
· Try out the colorful senior citizen exercise equipment
· Join an English Corner
· Sit in a pavilion and eat watermelon seeds

Things to watch other people do in Shangnhai's parks:

· Ballroom dancing
· Martial arts
· Sing local opera
· Sidewalk calligraphy with a water bottle
· Play Chinese chess
· Hang pet birds from a tree
· Play the erhu and other traditional musical instruments

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