Shamian was a treaty port where the British and the French set up their warehouses and offices. It was originally just a sandy bank which the Europeans improved and expanded to its present size. A narrow canal separates it from the rest of the city. This is an aerial view of Shamian in 1935.
Today it is a relatively quiet spot in the center of bustling and noisy Guangzhou. There are a few new buildings, like the White Swan Hotel, but mostly there are still the old European buildings and gardens. Many still show the plaques which show their original purpose like the Bank of Taiwan which now houses a dorm for hotel employees. The French Catholic church has been restored.
This is a present day view taken from Google Earth. We can see the towering White Swan hotel in the lower left and the road leading to it which borders the island. Another big change from the old photo is that the first row of buildings on the mainland, parallel to the canal, on LiuErSan avenue, have been torn down to make space for a wide road with many lanes.
In the 1980's the shallows next to the SW of the island were filled in to build the White Swan Hotel which is worth seeing. Hordes of westerners, mainly American and Spanish, who come to adopt Chinese babies stay at this hotel and you can often see groups of them with their newly acquired babies walking around Shamian.
Shamian is a favorite spot for Chinese newlyweds to have their wedding photos done as you can see in my page about Chinese weddings.
The name of the street on the mainland which runs parallel to the canal is Liu Er San (6-2-3). When I first arrived in 1997 it was a narrow street with four storey houses. Soon after the houses were razed and now Liu Er San is a huge, wide, road with many lanes for traffic.
Nearby was Qin Ping market which was a spectacle of its own and which has also disappeared. I am glad I got to see those things before they changed.
You can see photos of the buildings in Shamian at www.shamian.cn.
The main change in Shamian itself is a large number of bronze statues have been placed all around the place. They show scenes of children at play, Chinese and western people interacting or just stereotypical westerners.
Google Earth: You can find Shamian at 23.11 N, 113.24 E or click here.
A western woman goes bathing. (No comment)
Your stereotypical western couple, with adopted Chinese baby included.
These westerners just can't stop taking photos of everything.
A Chinese and a Western man doing business.
Note the traditional Chinese arrangement of the two
chairs facing the same way with a table in between.
A western couple look on as a woman does her sewing.
A chinese and a western girl at play
Music soothes the savage little beasts?...
A Chinese boy posting a letter.
Rock, paper, scissors.
This statue is not on Shamian but on a nearby shopping street.
It is a a young woman walking proudly with her nose very much in the air.
The following photos are taken from a news report.