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October 27, 2020

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Innovation rebuilds textile ‘cradle’

A downtown riverside section along the Suzhou Creek, once home to China’s earliest textile industries, has been renovated into a popular innovation park with stylish offices, paths, cafes and eateries.

The waterfront in Putuo District known as Baocheng Bay was home to a fifth of China’s earliest textile factories, dating back to the 1920s. After 1949, the Shanghai No. 1, 6 and 7 cotton factories were based on the waterfront, along with a military warehouse for quilts and uniforms. The site was dubbed the “cradle of China’s textile industry.”

The 80-year-old warehouse for military supplies such as quilts and clothes for Kuomintang Party army has been renovated into the X-Tower innovation park with the main structures being preserved.

The three-story warehouse covering over 10,000 square meters is now home to about 100 startup firms. The original cargo elevators have been preserved.

A former watchtower for the military site, known as the X-Tower now, allows visitors to view the scenery along the creek.

Several other riverside industrial relics have also been preserved, including a warehouse and pump house at 652 Changshou Road which was built in 1922 by the Japanese Home and Foreign Cotton Trading Co and later owned by Shanghai Textile Holding Co.

Putuo has the longest waterfront in downtown, stretching 21 kilometers with 18 bays. The riverside region was interrupted by over a dozen of spots, by either infrastructure, neighborhoods or companies.

The renovation has replaced a muddy path with plastic cement, while illegal structures have been demolished to make way for pocket parks.

The renovation campaign was launched in 2018 to demolish a total of 6,000 square meters of illegal structure on the river banks, said Zhao Ping, the Party secretary of the Changshou Road Subdistrict. Ten of the 18 bays of the creek are in the jurisdiction of the subdistrict.

The walls of some residential communities have been removed with the agreement of the residents to open up the riverside path to the public, she said. In return, the nearby innovation parks, including the X Tower, have agreed to share the parking lots at night with nearby residents.

“A volunteer team has been organized, including the residents, employees and students, to protect the environment on the newly opened waterfront,” Zhao said.

To further improve the environment and functions of the waterfront region along the creek, the annual Suzhou Creek Forum will be held in Putuo on Thursday, inviting experts from various fields to share their opinions on the riverside development.

Hosted by Putuo’s political advisors for over a dozen years, the forum aims to offer suggestions on economic and social issues along the creek. This year’s event will focus on the waterfront development of the creek.

The waterfront should be developed into an economic riverside park, a comfortable and happy home as well as the paradise for innovation and entrepreneurship, said Cai Jianyong, deputy secretary general of Putuo’s political advisory body.

The major waterfront attractions will include the Changshou (No. 1), Huxi (No. 10) and Changfeng (No. 18) bays of the creek, Cai added.


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