The establishment of Huaihai Road dates back to 1898, when the Qing Dynasty gave the French Concession the right to construct a street through a few residential quarters. The then authorities of the French Concession planned to build a microcosm of Paris there. Originally called Baochang Road, the name of the road was changed to Avenue Jeffre (some old people in Shanghai still call Huaihai Road “Xiafei Road,” which was transliterated from Jeffre).
To build an “Oriental Paris” in Avenue Jeffre, the authorities of the French Concession authorities had made it a rule that the European multi-story masonry structure should strictly maintain a distance of at least 10 paces from the street so that pedestrian pavements could be constructed.
Late on, telephone lines were erected in 1902, gas street lamps installed in 1906, and a tramcar line laid in 1908. As a result, Avenue Jeffre developed rapidly into a prosperous residential area and business center.
From that time on, one Western-style building after another sprang up on both sides of Avenue Jeffre, including buildings in European classical styles, Baroque and Spanish style, Norwegian style, Gothic style, and French style.
Over 30 French villas and over 100 Spanish Villas can be found on today’s Huaihai Road. Neon lights are glistening in the evening almost everywhere along the road, soft melodies are rising and falling in the air. Today’s Shanghai people even think of Huaihai Road as a street more than an “Oriental Paris.”
In 1950, the name was changed to Huaihai Road. Still greater changes have taken place since 1978, as witnessed by numerous skyscrapers that have mushroomed close-by, such as the Central Plaza, Shui On Plaza, Hong Kong Plaza, Shanghai Times Plaza, Shanghai Plaza, Lipao Plaza, Jinzhong Plaza, and Lansheng Mansion, Liulin Building. In addition, Huaihai Road boasts many well-decorated stores, too, almost all of which are closely following the world’s trends and sell fashionable, famous goods.