There are many distinctive roads in Shanghai. Why is Sinan Road on people’s mind day and night? Perhaps it’s because of such a good name. However, there must be a deeper secret behind it. Who shared dreams there? Who had Shanghai-style dates on the tree-lined road? And who are looking for surprises hidden in the buildings hand in hand? There are beautiful clothes and memorable delicacies. In a word, it is a road full of human interest because many residents had brought the flavor of life here.
Sinan Road: Former Residences of Celebrities
Sinan Road is a road full of human interest. The reason is simple. It’s the celebrities who lived there indirectly created familiar Shanghai-style life. The following people’s life here can tell you almost all of Shanghai people’s exquisiteness, ability to decorate their life as well as their pragmatism.
Chow En-lai's Residence
At 3 pm, July 14, 1946 might be the liveliest moment that the small building had seen since it was built that a small living room was packed with over 100 people. It was a press conference. Indeed, the press conference over half a century ago is not in the least less striking than any one of today. Many reporters who came late had to stand outside the doors and windows or on the balcony to listen to the press conference held by Chow En-lai after his negotiation on closure of Yellow River breach with UNRRA and CNRRA failed. The conference hall was also Chow En-lai’s “home” in Shanghai.
Headed by Chow En-lai, the CPC delegation in negotiation with the Kuomintang moved to Nanjing in August 1945 after China won the Anti-Japanese War as the Kuomintang government returned to the capital city. The CPC decided to set up an office in Shanghai in addition to its Nanjing Office because Shanghai was China’s economic and cultural center where many statesmen and democratic personages lived, which not only gave some leeway to its delegation in Nanjing but also provide a lawful base for its activities in area ruled by the Kuomintang including Shanghai. In April 1946, Chow En-lai wrote a letter to President Tse-ven Soong of the Executive Yuan, asking for “two buildings in Nanjing and one building in Shanghai for the CPC delegation”. Between March and April 1946, Qiao Guanhua and Gong Peng who were in Shanghai rented the building No. 107, Rue Massenet (now known as No. 73, Sinan Road) with the help of acquaintances as required by Chow En-lai who did not expected a positive reply.
However, the Kuomintang authorities did not allow the CPC delegation to set up the Shanghai Office on the pretext that the negotiations were not held in Shanghai. At the lease beginning, the small building was declared as the staff dorm of “Xinhua Daily”. “Since it is so, let’s called the office of Chow En-lai's Residence”, said Dong Biwu on June 18 when he arrived from Nanjing and learnt the Shanghai Office was obstructed. Four days later, door plate “Chow En-lai's Residence” was hung next to “No. 107, Rue Massenet”.
Chow En-lai's Residence is an attraction to many visitors as the former residence of a great man though it is no longer a political symbol. It became more popular suddenly after Sinan Mansions was launched. The history has got more attractive in fashion’s clothing.
The Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen
The former residence of Sun Yat-sen on Sinan Road is a good mirror of the importance of friendship and love to a person. Firstly, the house is a gift from his friends. Since he established the Society for the Revival of China in 1894, Sun Yat-sen had been busy with staging uprisings and leading the revolution at home and abroad without a fixed abode. Chinese people who lived in Canada bought this residence for him with raised funds to support his revolutionary activities.
Secondly, he and his wife Soong Ching-ling lived there from 1918 to 1925. The seven years of mutual help witnessed the couple’s true love.
If you pay a visit to it, you will easily find that most of the furnishings there were used by Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling and set out according to Soong Ching-ling’s memory of the 1920s and 1930s. Living room and dining room are on the first floor, and the study, bedroom and small living room are on the second floor. In front of the study and bedroom, there is a rectangle enclosed balcony. Beside the building is a garage. In front of the buildings, there is a lawn surrounded by holly trees, camphor trees and magnolia trees etc. At first glance, it’s really a retreat away from the world. However, people who lived there were anything but hermits. They were concerned with the country’s future and tried to change the nation with their own efforts in an age of innocence and dreams as witnessed by the buildings.
The Former Residence of Mei Lanfang
To many Beijing opera pilgrims, a visit to No.87, Sinan Road is a must in a trip to Shanghai just because Mei Lanfang once lived there. Mei Lanfang’s family moved to Shanghai after Japanese occupied northeast China and invaded north China in September 18, 1931. He stayed at Cangzhou Hotel on the former Jing’an Temple Road (now known as West Nanjing Road) at the beginning. Later, he rented a quiet garden house located at No. 121, South Section of Rue Massenet (now known as No. 87, Sinan Road) with the help of his friend. The house owner was former Hunan Provincial Governor Cheng Qian who lived at No. 123, Rue Massenet. With great respect for Mei Lanfang, Cheng Qian had never collected rents from him.
Facing towards the south, the Former Residence of Mei Lanfang is a four-floor French-style brick-and-timber building with its size and structure about the same with Chow En-lai's Residence on No. 73, Sinan Road and facades veneered with cobbles. The first floor was used as the garage and the servants’ dorm, and the second floor served as the study. Mei Lanfang’s study in Beijing is called “Zhuiyuxuan” (a room decorated with jade) and his study in Shanghai is called “Meihuashiwu” (a room of plums and poems). The room next to his study was the bedroom of his mother-in-law and daughter. Mei Lanfang and his wife Fu Zhifang lived on the third floor. And Mei Baochen, Mei Baozhen and Mei Baojiu lived on the fourth floor. Mei Lanfang had a close connection with Shanghai. During the “isolated island” period, Mei Lanfang had taken refuge in Hong Kong before he was sent back to Shanghai where he grow a beard and made up his mind to cease performance. A garden house is more than a residence. Who’d think many hard and important decisions were made at a desk? Who’d think many sagas were just conceived in a garden over a cigarette?
Sinan Road’s History
Built in 1912, the road was named Rue Massenet by Conseil D'Administration Municipale de la Concession Fran?aise de Changhai (Board of Municipal Administration, Shanghai French Concession) to commemorate famous French musician Massener who passed away on August 13 that year. Around the road, there were famous landmarks such as the French Park (now known as Fuxing Park); St. Peter's Catholic Church, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine (formerly known as Shanghai Second Medical University) and Hospital Sainte-Marie (now known as Ruijin Hospital) on the south; and ?cole de France (the French School now known as Shanghai Science Hall) on the east.
Sinan Mansions: A High-end Place of Entertainment
Maybe it’s difficult to touch history as time goes on. But don’t forget that history left traces everywhere. Some faded away with time while the others survived. The newly-launched Sinan Mansions, for example, is making a more melodious and brilliant sound with the echo left by legendary Sinan Road in modern times. You can find that the meticulous, comfortable and reassuring life attitude favored by Shanghainese has never been changed despite of the new elements injected into such a charming old road.
The hotel’s Chinese restaurant, in four-storey building No. 55, Sinan Mansions, is full of the characteristics of old Shanghai. The garden villa provides customized private banquets dominated by Cantonese cuisine with Shanghai features. Highly skilled Executive Chef Luo Yelin was once the executive chef of the well-known eastern restaurant of the Dorchester Hotel. The restaurant has seven 6-to-14-people private rooms which have rest areas for you to talk freely in the privacy of garden villa.
The hotel’s western restaurant is located at No. 57, Sinan Mansions. Its name Aux Jardins, which means “garden” in French, is in perfect harmony with the hotel style.
In addition, the hotel has three banquet areas. The main banquet hall is an eye-catching three-storey veranda-style building of the 1920s to 1930s with impressive arched corridors. The building is also a must-see because it was rotated by 90 degrees to highlight the overall layout of Sinan Mansions
Maison De L’Hui
Maison De L’Hui is at the center of the former French Concession, opposite to Chow En-lai's Residence. The second floor and the third floor respectively have two private rooms with spacious balconies where you can enjoy delicacies in the warm sun.
Type: Shanghai cuisine restaurant
Add.: No. 59, Sinan Mansions
Tel.: 400 820 2028
Sinan Gardens is a Chinese food club specializing in high-level business dinners. Birdseye plates, black titanium stainless steel mirrors and marble flooring create a low-profile but luxurious space. The nine private and comfortable rooms are equipped with new Chinese-style decorations of new international fashion as well as elegant and splendid European-style furniture including chairs coated with high-gloss crystal paint and crystal tableware with famous people's porcelain oil paintings to highlight the theme and luxury. Apart from the food and drinks, you may also taste the special feeling of the concession's old class on the third floor's recreational corridor with transparent glass ceiling and French windows and creative glaze design.
Add.: 2F-3F, No. 35, Sinan Mansions, No. 16, Lane 523, Middle Fuxing Road
Tel.: 021-68877977; 021-58395757
Alchemist Cocktail | Kitchen
The bartenders make state-of-the-art cocktails by means of advanced techniques and representation along with delicate cuisine. The seemingly simple materials can create unique culinary delights.
Type: bar/light food restaurant
Add.: 1F-2F, No. 32, Sinan Mansions
Tel.: 6426 0660
Shanghai Slim's is a large American steak and seafood restaurant in Sinan Mansions, the most fashionable restaurant complex. Its superfine entrecote steak made of USDA-certified high-grade beef is among the best in Shanghai.
Add.: 26D, Sinan Mansions, No. 10-12, Lane 523, Middle Fuxing Road
MIGA Japanese Cuisine
MIGA Japanese Cuisine is a three-storey foreign-style building of high privacy. The ceilings of its two magnificent private rooms have flower patterns made of world-top Italian mosaic BISAZZA inlaid with pure gold. All the seafood, fruits, seasonings, tableware and utensils are imports from Japan. The restaurant's specialty is its medium well-done well-chosen Australian lobsters with sea urchin sashimi transported from Hokkaido by air. Just one bite will give you an unspeakable experience of two seafoods of different taste.
Add.: 26E, Sinan Mansions, Middle Fuxing Road, Luwan District, Shanghai