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Guide to Shanghai’s Duolun Cultural Street
Take a stroll along the historic street where some of China's greatest literature was born
Just off Sichuan Bei Lu, Shanghai's Duolun Cultural Street (多伦文化名人街) was home to many aspiring writers in first half of the 20th century, including Lu Xun, Mao Dun, Guo Moruo, and Ding Ling of the League of Leftist Writers.
Decidedly less glamorous than the converted shikumen rows of stores on Taikang Lu, Duolun Lu is happily devoid of the touristy masses and retains its scruffy Bohemian feel despite a neatly done restoration, and is today lined with memorial museums, tea houses and galleries that seem at home in the area.
Duolun Cultural Street (多伦路文化名人街) was inaugurated in 1998 as an outdoor museum of 1920s-style architecture and a monument to the city’s literary history.
It was here that the League of Leftist Writers was founded in 1930 and the street was a hub of a movement of revolutionary thought that included Chinese cultural celebrities.
Life-size bronze statues depicting the individuals who form part of Duolun’s heritage, such as the statue of Rou Shi (柔石) (above), are found along the street. Rou Shi was one of the five martyrs of the Left Union killed by the Kuomintang in 1931.
The League of Leftist Writers Museum (左翼作家联盟成立大会会址纪念馆, No. 2, Lane 201 Duolun Lu) preserves for posterity the hall in which the league was founded. The museum is open from 9 a.m.--11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.--4 p.m., Tuesday -- Sunday.
Here, maintenance work is carried out in front of the historic Kong residence (250 Duolun Lu), one of Duolun’s many architectural attractions.
The former residence of Kong Xiangxi, a fabulously rich entrepreneur and an important official in the Kuomintang, was built in 1924 and features an Islamic building style.
Many examples of the typical Shanghai architecture of the 1920s -- an amalgamation of imported ideas mixed with traditional practices driven by a booming contemporary exchange of goods and ideas -- can be found along the street.
In the photo on the left above, a former students' dormitory includes an arch-lined outdoor corridor on the first and second floors, and in the photo on the right, a 1920s house built in the Renaissance style features Ionic columns at its entryway.
The Hong De church (鸿德堂, 95 Duolun Lu), build in 1928, is a rare example of a Christian church built with Chinese architectural styles. The church is a popular location for wedding and other photo shoots due to its unique appearance and spiritual meaning.
The Koala International Youth Hostel (考拉花园旅舍, 240 Duolun Lu) is located in a historic building that was once a private club. Chen Ying (陈影), left, and Xu Yifang (徐依芳) say they come to the hostel frequently for lunch because they enjoy the relaxed atmosphere inside.
The rooms of the hostel are all individually decorated, reflecting period styles.
The street, dotted with slices of culture and history (such as the Chopsticks Collection Hall or the Old Movie Café) and small antique and trinket shops, seems a world away from the bustling parallel thoroughfare of Sichuan Lu.
The fact that it is a little off the beaten path definitely contributes to the street’s charm.
Wandering into the small lanes can provide a sense of peace and quiet that sometimes seems hard to find in Shanghai.
Duolun is a surprising oasis of calm, culture and heritage hidden in Hongkou.