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Jewel of the Bund

By Wang Ying ( Shanghai Star ) Updated: 2015-01-17 07:00:00

Jewel of the Bund

The entrance of the Fairmont Peace Hotel has changed little since it first opened. [Photo provided to Shanghai Star]

The grand old building was the first high-rise in China, and it has hosted Shanghai's grandest parties and celebrations for generations. Wang Ying pays a visit to the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

Situated along the Bund, the Fairmont Peace Hotel (和平饭店) is more of a participant than a witness of Shanghai's changes during the past 86 years.

The hotel first opened it's doors on Aug 1, 1929, and was originally named the Cathay Hotel by its owner, Sir Victor Sassoon, a businessman and hotelier from the Sassoon banking family, a famous and prosperous British-Iraqi Jewish family in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. The Sassoon family once owned many assets including the HSBC.

Hailed as the world's most beautiful hotel, the 11 story Cathay Hotel was the first high-rise building in China. Its construction required the installation of 1,600 redwood and concrete piles to support the huge steel and concrete structure on the mud flats of the Bund.

The construction of the impressive building kicked off in the spring of 1926. Sassoon invested $5 million into the project, and in 1928, he redesigned the upper part of the building into a luxury hotel.

The building has an art deco facade is designed in the Gothic style of the Chicago school. Palmer & Turner Architects & Engineers Ltd was the company that designed the building.

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