CITY NEWS

Rules to simplify resolution of accidents
A SET of new measures in dealing with traffic accidents may go a long way in easing subsequent traffic congestions, according municipal police.

How the city will look 2020
CAN you imagine no piles of coal, just pleasing greenbelts and flowers along the Huangpu River from Nanpu Bridge and Yangpu Bridge?

2 midwives cause death of a newborn
TWO unlicensed midwives were recently arrested by Minhang District police after a baby they helped deliver at the home of a migrant couple died.

Security head found guilty of embezzlement
THE employee of a securities company was prosecuted on Friday after admitting to embezzling 12.9 million yuan ($1.56 million) for the purpose of stock speculation.

Thank you! Chinese police
Dear Tong Xiongwei and Liao Fukang:

Metro riders get extra ticket
PASSENGERS on Metro Line 2 will be given one free ticket if they buy two tickets at the same time from yesterday, which means a saving of 5 yuan ($0.60) for every three tickets.

Ship runs aground but all crew safe
AN aged cargo ship was stranded near the mouth of the Yangtze River on Sunday night. All the crew members on board left the ship safely by 11:00 am yesterday.

China's first IC design base opens
CHINA'S first integrated circuit (IC) design base, set up in Shanghai on Sunday, is expected to push forward the nation's microelectronics industry.

Air quality improves slightly
SHANGHAI'S air quality took a turn for the better last week, according to a report from the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Centre.

City lacks high-tech recruits
IN order to meet the demands of further development, Shanghai is taking measures to enlarge its talent pool.

Seminars to make local culture less foreign
CHINESE culture can be a little foreign to the foreigner.

Fireworks cause tragedy
THE death of two people over the Spring Festival period has raised the question of whether the city should institute a complete ban on fireworks and firecrackers.

Bridging the gap
THE distinction between properties earmarked for local residents and those allocated to foreign buyers may soon be abolished, and the government is investigating how best to compensate foreign developers once the new open market is in place.

Waibaidu, bridge over changing waters

EVERY great city has its trademark bridge. London has Tower Bridge, San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge and Beijing has the Marco Polo Bridge.

What about Shanghai? In the minds of many locals, the honour should go to the centennial Waibaidu Bridge.

For decades, the graceful steel Waibaidu Bridge has remained one of the best preserved symbols of Shanghai.

Seen from whatever angle, the bridge is an appealing site. To its south is the city's fabled Bund, to its north there is the Shanghai Mansions, formerly called the Broadway Mansions, and the Russian consulate-general building. And below the bridge the creek flows in endless waves to the east to join the Huangpu River.

The history of the bridge can be traced to the mid 1850s when the city had just opened to the outside world. At that time, ferry boats remained the only means of transportation that connected the city's south and north sections divided by Suzhou Creek.

The ferry boats, however, failed to meet the sharply increasing demand for transportation as people from across the country kept migrating to the city.

In 1856, a British businessman surnamed Welles, along with several other British and American bankers, set up a bridge company. The company built a wooden bridge at the confluence of Suzhou Creek and Huangpu River. The Welles Bridge, as it was called, was built to earn money: every Chinese person who wished to use the bridge had to pay a toll of one copper coin while the privileged foreigners did not need to pay anything.

Chinese people responded to the discriminatory toll with anger, and boycotted it, rendering the bridge literally non-profitable. Finally in 1873, the bridge company had no other choice but to sell Wells Bridge to the Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC). The SMC dismantled the short-lived Welles Bridge in the same year.

At the same time in August, 1873, the SMC built a floating bridge several metres west of Welles Bridge. The floating bridge was free for all people, Chinese and foreigners alike.

The floating bridge, however, did not last long either. In 1906, it was dismantled to make way for a strong steel bridge. The steel bridge was completed in 1907. Chinese people called the bridge "Waibaidu Bridge." The Chinese word "baidu" means free ferry, and "wai" means outer since the bridge was close to the former outer ferry on the creek. Foreigners called it "Park Bridge" because it was close to the Public Park, now Huangpu Park.

The bridge bears silent witness to the city's vicissitudes, both its decline and periods of prosperity in the intervening years.

In the middle of 1999 it experienced the largest face-lift of its history to date and was restored to its full beauty, glory and strength.

Now, in the new century, the bridge is still sturdy and ready again to endure the weathering of the elements and the busy traffic, and to greet the tourists that come to the city.

(By Shi Hua)

Copyright 2000 by Shanghai Star. All rights reserved.