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Stones provide key to the past

TWO boundary stones indicating the site of the city's earliest customs house in about 1860 are to be restored and go on display at the Shanghai History Museum.

The two stones were erected on Waima Road near Baidu Road, south of today's Customs House on the Bund, in about 1860. They marked the rebuilt customs house at that time, said Xue Liyong, a former researcher at the Shanghai History Museum.

The former Jianghai Customs House was built in about 1685, the year the Qing government eased restriction on maritime commerce, Xue said. But it was burned down by opponents of the government.

The stones suggest that Shanghai was already a thriving port in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Before their discovery, historians had no evidence of Shanghai's trading activities in the early Qing Dynasty.

These two stones also indicate Shanghai was a thriving domestic port before it became a renowned port city for foreign trade after the 1840s, researchers said.

"The stones were thrown into the garden when the house was rebuilt in 1922," Xue said. Last year, the two stones were unearthed by a construction company.


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