City parks offer a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. City planners oftentimes choose to include multiple venues in these idyllic locations. Sometimes these extra features add to the ambience while other times these options take away from the original intention of park life. I certainly was not expecting to see a Starbucks Coffee store inside a Shanghai park.
Shanghai’s People’s Park was designed by Mr. Cheng Shi-fu on the old site of the Shanghai’s Race Course. The race club was established in 1862 by the British. It was a notable gambling site in East Asia.
After its erection in 1933, the race track’s club building became a landmark in downtown Shanghai. This building’s clock tower can be seen from inside the park. After the Communists took over Shanghai, horse racing and gambling were banned. In 1952, People’s Park was developed in the northern part of the property and People’s Square was built in the southern part.
Near the end of the the 20th century several public buildings were added to the periphery- Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Grand Theater, and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.
The grounds were impressive and immaculately maintained. During our early morning walk, we encountered many groundskeepers.
We also stumbled upon a significant number of people sleeping on the ground. We did not anticipate seeing what appeared to be homeless people in a Communist country.
If one looks at eye level, it was easy to forget the central location. Merely raising one’s head slightly brought the hazy tall buildings into focus.
Small groups of older people congregated in various places. This reminded us of our visits to Beijing parks.
Some were simply chatting.
Other people were intently playing games.
We passed by a colorful amusement park. Since it was early, only a few families were taking advantage of the carnival atmosphere.
A more popular destination was a designated exercise area. We were not able to totally understand this Chinese sign that appeared to encourage exercise.
A small running/walking track was being used by slow moving and slightly disabled individuals. In other areas, people were using the rudimentary exercise equipment stations. Like everywhere in China, old and young were using their smart phones.
We continued to find more people taking a midmorning snooze.
Our leisurely stroll ended abruptly when the intense sunshine started to beat down upon us. We opted for a visit to the Shanghai Museum. Even though we could see it from the park, we realized that an underground passageway was our best route.
After finding our way to the appropriate staircase, we entered an underground city that was just coming to life. These stores were on the verge of opening. When we returned a couple of hours later, this sub sidewalk was filled with people.
If you’d like to take a leisurely walk in central Shanghai, consider visiting People’s Park.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Award.