Lengjiang Yuxiang Street, or Cold River Rain Lane, features well-preserved architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Preservation work has been completed on an old street in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) town on the outskirts of Shanghai and it is ready to receive citizens and tourists during the National Day holiday week from of Saturday.
Lengjiang Yuxiang Street, or Cold River Rain Lane, in the historic town of Zhuanghang of Fengxian District features well-preserved architecture dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911) on both sides of the one-kilometer stretch.
It runs along the Lengjiang, which literally means Cold River, which is a tributary of the Huangpu River and was once a busy waterway for the prosperous trading city.
Many shops and historic sites in the area have been preserved. They include a fire prevention facility established at the turn of the last century, a shop selling traditional blue cloth, a listed intangible cultural heritage of Shanghai, and the Dingfeng Fermentation Food Co, the city’s oldest soy sauce factory which has opened its doors in 1864.
Dingfeng is an age-old brand in Shanghai, which makes traditionally fermented soy sauce and bean curd. The main factory has been moved, but some traditional workshops still make sauce for nearby residents, and the aroma permeates the whole town.
A museum celebrating the company and its manufacturing processes has been set up in a former rural supply and marketing cooperative, a “planned economy” heritage site.
Lengjiang Yuxiang Street in Historic Zhuanghang Town of Fengxian District
“The ancient street project, along with other measures, is expected to turn the traditional agricultural town into a demonstration site of the national rural revitalization campaign,” said Tao Qing, Party Secretary of Zhuanghang.
The city originated in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and has always been the city’s agricultural base. It features the best rice fields in Shanghai, both for quality and production.
It has also preserved many traditional folk arts such as paper carving, agricultural poetry and Hanguang ceramics, a local intangible cultural heritage. Porcelain is renowned for its purity, softness and elegant illustrations.
Much of the city’s cultural heritage is showcased in renovated country houses or villages along the old street, as many heirs still live there.
Some abandoned artifacts such as millstones and plows were collected to decorate houses that became guesthouses or small restaurants.
Former ponds used to farm fish and crabs have been transformed into a single watershed for tourists to hold fishing competitions. A century-old dwelling house is now a museum retracing the history of the village.
Some houses have become homestays or small restaurants on Lengjiang Yuxiang Street in the historic town of Zhuanghang.
Villagers have been encouraged to rent their houses to the township government so that the buildings can be converted into homestay projects and offices for start-ups. Authorities relocated some of the villagers to newly built modern residential neighborhoods.
More than 40 farmers’ homes have been transformed into corporate headquarters, talent apartments and homestay projects to help boost both the regional economy and the incomes of the city’s farmers , said Wang Wankuan, the governor.
A house owner, for example, can receive around 50,000 yuan (7,030 USD) per year if his property is renovated to serve as a headquarters or minsu (B&B), compared to 20,000 yuan per year in the normal rental market.
A former village named Yuli, located one kilometer from the Huangpu River, is being redeveloped as Shanghai’s first fashion music town. It aims to attract major national culture and entertainment companies and their famous pop stars.
Most of the 34 villager households have agreed to remodel their houses into villas to accommodate the singers and musicians, who are expected to take inspiration from the rural environment and fresh village air, Wang said.
Annual tax revenue is expected to reach 200 million yuan within three years, a return that would be unimaginable under the traditional mode of agricultural development, Wang added.
A luxury hotel has also been planned near the renovated rural villages. The Xiaoya Luming Hotel, which takes its name from the “Book of Songs”, will have around 300 rooms, as well as restaurants, entertainment areas, meeting rooms and shopping complexes.
Rural houses have been transformed into villas to accommodate professionals and artists.
A headquarters built along a large rice field in Zhuanghang City.
Artist’s impression of a future luxury hotel to be built near the city of Zhuanghang