A last look along Wenmiao Road, as another chunk of old Shanghai fades into new

Secondhand bookstores, snack booths and ACGN shops shapes people's memory of Wenmiao, the Confusius Temple of Shanghai which is about to have a facelift.

An archway, a well-known meeting point for visitors, dominates the entrance of Wenmiao Road in Huang

An archway, a well-known meeting point for visitors, dominates the entrance of Wenmiao Road in Huang

Photos by FAN Jianlei


Wenmiao, the Confucius Temple of Shanghai, is ready for a facelift. The temple first appeared in historical records in 1255, but the Wenmiao we know today was built in 1855, at the heart of Laochengxiang, or the Old City.

The temple plot only covers a couple of hundred meters but sits squarely in the middle of Huangpu District. The secondhand bookstores and ACGN shops used to be the haunt of bibliophiles and comic fans, but now the few shops that remain are making haste with clearance sales. Residents are taking photos of, literally, everything, as they try to preserve an image of old Shanghai that is about to vanish.

A boy strolls along Wenmiao Road in the summer sun. The street is much less busy these days.
Behind the “Wenmiao Rd” street sign is the removal and demolition office for the area. This is the body in charge of residences’ relocation.

Signs outside toy shops and stationery shops on Wenmiao Road read “Clearance sale. Buy one, get one free.”

Gundam model kits have long been fixtures in local shop windows.
The entrances of apartment buildings on Wenmiao Road are now empty and locked. The residents have been rehoused.
A man on a tricycle rides past the Kong Yiji restaurant which is featured in a short story in Lu Xun’s collection “ Call to Arms.”
An Aladdin’s cave is just one of many in the anime shops on the road.
A scene of colorful plastic Pokemons lying on all sides adorns the window display at a model store.
An advertisement for a real estate agent is posted outside a fruit store.
One of many photographers tries to preserve memories of the road before its renewal.
A cellphone shop has closed for good. On the roller shutter door reads the new address of the shop.
A couple rests in the shade in front of an ice cream shop.
The stone tablet reads “Shanghai Cultural Relics Protection Unit, Shanghai Confucius Temple.”
The two signs read, “This area is requisitioned for renovation” and “People-oriented and harmonious expropriation.”