To be explored…
Overview – Tianzifang
The district comprises a neighborhood of labyrinthine alleyways off Taikang Road, a short street which is today mostly known only for Tianzifang. Tianzifang is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios, and narrow alleys. It has become a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, and an example of the preservation of local Shikumen architecture. It is sometimes compared to Xintiandi, though in the latter precinct most of the houses were demolished and rebuilt, rather than renovated.
This area is largely hidden from the neighboring streets, as it grew from the inside of the block outward, although there are now shops on Taikang Road itself. Historically Lane #248 was a key entrance that, in order to gain access to the commercially developed area, required walking about 50m through whilst being surrounded by local residents’ life, including bicycles, hanging laundry, etc. until finally emerging in the ‘new’ area.
Rezoning of Tianzifang into a tourist precinct began in 2005/2006 with nearby art schools and studios, and later small international business owners found out about this place through the local grapevine. Its development began very slowly with local merchants, a New Zealand store, Japanese restaurants, and a tea house set up in the district. From the beginning of 2007, journalists, visitors, and local residents began to visit the area and spread the word about a cozy little lane district that housed some interesting and creative businesses. Additional articles in both local and foreign media such as the New York Times helped increase awareness of this older and unusual community, that stood out among the more modern and commercial shopping areas of Shanghai.
Tianzifang is located in one of the most expensive areas in Shanghai. It has become a major tourist attraction and has more than 200 diverse small businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, craft stores, design houses and studios, and even French bistros. It is adjacent to the SML center which is among the largest shopping malls in Shanghai.