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Trams in Shanghai (1)

30 October 2010
 

Early Days of Shanghai Tram

The Heyday of Shanghai Tram
Dying Days & Resurrection

[1] [2] [3]

A tram in 1930s picking up passengers in Nanjing Road

Once upon a time, there was a popular nursery song in Shanghai:

There is an old uncle aged eighty plus eight, who took Tram Route Eight to Eight Immortals Bridge street, bought eight bowls of Eight Treasures rice, which cost him eight yuans plus eighty-eight fens.

有个老八八(上海口音之老伯伯),年纪八十八,乘啦八路电车到八仙桥,买了八碗八宝饭,一共用脱八块八角八。

Old uncle is the term by which Chinese address an old man, and Eight Treasures rice is a popular snack in South of Yangtze region that is made of sticky rice mingled with a layer of red bean paste and topped with pumpkin seeds and various other nuts then steamed to be served as side dish. As for Eight Immortals Bridge, it has long gone; but in the old days, it was one of nine famous bridges striding across a river flowing through today’s Yan’an Road (延安路), a major commercial street in the heart of Shanghai CBD parallel to Nanjing Road (南京路) - decades and decades ago there was no street but a stream branched out from the Huangpu River (黄浦江)and stretched towards today’s People’s Park (人民公园). This very river was called Yangjingbang (洋泾浜), the source of the term Chinglish that originally referred to the broken English spoken by Shanghainese living along this waterway. Also long gone is the Tram Route Eight that took the old uncle to the Eight Immortals Bridge to purchase Eight Treasures Rice.

Tram Route Eight was not the first tram line in Shanghai. The first one is Tram Route 1 (understandably) that appeared as early as 1908 - by then the Middle Kingdom was still ruled by an emperor, albeit an alien emperor whose tribe migrated to China’s northeast from Siberian via Korea; and by then Chinese men were still forced by the Manchurian tribe ruler to fashion a pigtail-style hairdo, very much like the one on the top of the tram. The Route 1 ran from the terminus at Jian’ansi (静安寺) to Waitan (外滩) alongside the Huangpu River, passing through Beijing Road and Nanjing Road on its way, with a total length of over 6 km.

Months later, the British colonists who ruled the area where the tram was running issued monthly tram pass, but to the Westerners only – the local Chinese were excluded from this privilege. In the following year, the monthly pass became available to Chinese but with a condition that the locals could only aboard the second carriage which was lower in grade than the first car – a blissful situation that Chinese in Shanghai found themselves in under the Western occupation.

In the following decades, nearly two dozen more tram lines surfaced to cover the entire downtown area of Shanghai, extending to Yangshupu (杨树浦, today’s Yangpu District)in the east, Hongkou Park (虹口公园) and old train station in the north, Xujiahui (徐家汇) in the west and Lujiawan (卢家湾) in the south, with the average daily number of passengers the trams handled reaching almost half million (486,000). Yet of 22 tram lines, 11 were owned by British companies, 7 ran by French merchants, with only 4 belonged to Chinese.

[1] [2] [3]

Early Days of Shanghai Tram
The Heyday of Shanghai Tram
Dying Days & Resurrection

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