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Whatever your thoughts about Shanghai Expo, its legacy to the city's urban infrastructure cannot be denied. So the clean air and construction-free city center may be a distant memory, but being the world's stage for six months sure gave a boost to projects such as the new and improved Bund area, so many new metro lines I've already lost count, a city-wide paint job and a new terminal at Hongqiao airport to name but a few and this past week, I've come across yet another slice of leftover Expo pie, called Shanghai Corniche. (More after the jump... )
The city's best kept secret, Shanghai Corniche is a downtown breath of fresh air (well almost, if you discount the occasional smoke spewing tug boat passing by on the river). Part of a mammoth project to redevelop Xuhui's waterfront (that's the bit that stretches south from the Lupu Bridge, opposite the Expo site) there's still a lot of work to do before it becomes the complete commercial and residential mega-hub it will eventually be, but what's already there is most certainly worth a look. The re-development has integrated much of the waterfront's original industrial features with dock cranes towering over pedestrian walkways and an old railway shed and tracks from what was Shanghai's original port train station, the Shanghai Nanpu Station built during the Qing Dynasty (1907), left intact. There's even an old steam train at one of the main entrance points on the southern most end of Ruijin Nan Lu.
A pedestrianized zone (with free public bicycle rental at several points along the 8.5 kilometer stretch) Shanghai Corniche is also home to an elevated walkway, climbing walls, basketball hoops and what looks like it might eventually be a small skate park. There's also the "Maritime Tower" which in the future will be used as a viewing point. Traffic free (and right now virtually people free too!) it's a great piece of downtown open space and perfect for a run, an afternoon stroll with the kids, walking the dog or just watching the boats go by--and it's lit up all pretty at night too.
How to get there: Head south, south, south down Ruijin Nan Lu to arrive at the north end of the Shanghai Corniche waterfront and the old Nanpu Railway Station, or hop on Metro Line 7 to Chuanchang Road. Head for the river and you'll arrive about halfway down.