Anecdotes about Shanghai street names

After Shanghai opened its port in 1843, It has become a city of immigrants.

Before the liberation of Shanghai in 1949, many avenues are named after foreign celebrities and places, such as “Lincoln Avenue”, “Avenue Joffre”, “Avenue Petain”, “Gordon Road” and so on. Theses names remind us our colonial pasts. Therefore, they were cancelled after the liberation in order to take a new look of this city.

summer camp in shanghai
summer camp in shanghai

Gordon Road Station

Then, when they renamed the streets, they decide on a principal: give their names by provinces and cities and divide it by the vertical and horizontal.

All streets in the north and south directions are named after provinces and the autonomous regions, “Xinjiang Rd”, “Xizang Rd”, “Sichuan Rd”, “Shaanxi Rd”, “Henan Rd” for example. While those in the east and west directions are named after cities, as “Nanjing Rd”, “Fuzhou Rd”, “Yan’an Rd”.

And in the downtown, according to the location of the district in Shanghai, its name is determined by the geographical location on the map of China.

For example, Xuhui District is in the southwest of the city, thus all its streets’ names correspond to geographical names of Guangxi autonomous region like “Guilin Rd”.

Changning District is also located in the southwest, its streets are named by Guizhou provice.

And so on, Hongkou and Yangpu District is in the northeast of Shanghai, they correspond to Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning three provinces in the northeast of China.

summer camp in shanghai
summer camp in shanghai
summer camp in shanghai
summer camp in shanghai

With the urbanization of Shanghai, there was an explosion of new roads. New methods have been adopted.

Some new area has its own rule. Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in Pudong District for example, use famous scientists ‘names as the park specializes in research in life sciences, software, semiconductors, and information technology.

The street name may also cause a dispute. There’s an anecdote. It is about a street named “Qinxi Rd” in Changning District. “Qinxi” is a place in Guizhou Province, it conforms with the principal. However, it pronounces similarly to “attempt suicide” in Shanghainese. People have a lot of repercussions after its publishing. After the study of the government, the original name was finally cancelled and replaced by another.

It is thus clear that giving names to roads depends both on science and cultural connotations, which cannot be regarded as a trifle. They are related to the interests of the people’s wellbeing.

– Learn Chinese and Trip in China at RISH Chinese Summer Camp.