The Histrorical Buildings in Zhangshan Square, Dalian, China

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The Histrorical Buildings in Zhangshan Square, Dalian, China

(Written by Yoshi MIKAMI 2005.08.05; Update 2005.09.06.)

Ni Hao! I would like to introduce to you today the buildings in Zhongshan Square, Dalian, China, that were built during Japan's occupation in 1905-45. Our bus is now going west on Zhongshan Road, entering soon Zhongshan Square. Let's get off the bus in front of the Dalian Hotel, and take about an hour to see these buildings. Note: Zhongshan is the honorable name given to Sun Yat-sen (Sun Wen), the first president of the Republic of China.
(1) The Dalian Hotel was originally built in 1914 as the Dalian Yamato (Dahe) Hotel, as part of the chain of the Yamato Hotels at Hoshi-ga-Ura (Xinghai Park as it is now called), Lushun, Changchun (Xinjin at that time) and Shengyang (Fengtian) in northeast China. The Dalian Yamato and the Modern Hotel in Harbin were the two best hotels in Manchuria. Isn't it a beautiful hotel? At the entrance on the right is a plaque showing it is an "Important Building Protected by the City of Dalian" (the official wording on the plaque being the "Mainly Preserved Architecture in Dalian"), designated in 2002. The hotel was renamed as the Dalian Hotel after World War II (WWII), and, as you can see, it is one of the best hotels in Dalian, with its high ceilings and the banquet halls with high wooden walls. It has Momiji (Hongye), one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city, and is where Bo Xilai, the former mayor of Dalian, later the governor of Liaoning Province, now the minister of Commerce in Beijing --- well, he is the son of Bo Yibo, one of Mao

Zedong's close comrades --- stays when he visits Dalian. Let's look at the pictures on the walls of the lobby, on the left and also on the right, showing the scene of Zhongshan Square taken ca. 1920. This square originally was designed by the Russians as Nikolayevskaya Square (the czar at that time was Nicolas, who reigned 1894-1917), with ten roads going out of and coming into the square, and, as the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, the Japanese continued its construction as Large Square (O Hiroba). In this picture, you can already see most of the buildings that we will see today. At that time, a street car line came from Zhongshan Road to this square,

and, as we will see at the end of our visit today, the British Consulate building was on this square, because Japan gave the British the best place in Dalian due to the British-Japanese League. (Note: you can get the hotel management's permission to see the banquet halls and guest rooms.)
Getting out of the Dalian Hotel, we cross Jiefang Road and come to the former (2) Dalian City Hall, built in 1917, which later became Daqing Bank, the predecessor of the Bank of China, and now an Industrial & Commercial Bank of China office. The building was designed by Shigemitsu Matsumuro, the head of the Construction Dept. of Guangdong Leased Territory, the central tower resembling the float of the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the entrance looking like a Chinese gable in the Japanese architecture. Next we will cross Luxun Road, which leads southeast to the former South Manchurian Railway Company headquarters building. That area used to be called Nanzan (Nanshan) and was where many Japanese people lived and therefore a Japanese Town was recently opened in that area.. I heard that they used to do skating in winter in Mirror Pond, which is now part of Children's Park where the Dalianites enjoy skating in winter. We now have crossed Luxun Road and come to (3) Toyo Takushoku (East Colonization) Building, built in 1936. This company, next largest to South Manchurian Railway Co., was engaged in various activities in Korea and Manchuria. According to the plaque in front of the building, it became at one time after WWII the headquarters of the Dalian City Communist Party and is now owned by the China Bank of Communications. Next, we go through the underground path of Renmin Road and come to the former (4) Bank of China Building, built in 1909, now the Dalian Branch of CITIC Industrial Bank.
I will explain a little about the banking industry in China: after the Liberation of 1945, the People's bank of China is the central bank, issuing bank notes and coins, and is engaged in controlling the banking activities, playing the roll equivalent to the Bank of Japan or the Federal Reserve Bank in U.S. There are five largest banks, recently privatized: Bank of China, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications, and Agricultural Bank of China. There are also local banks, such as Dalian City Commercial Bank, with branches located in the respective local areas. The are also newer banks, such as China Merchants Bank, China Minsheng Banking Corp., China Everbright (Guangda) Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Guangdong Development Bank, Shenzhen Development Bank, Huaxia Bank, CITIC Industrial Bank, etc. In China, we are on the edge of entering the credit card period and the time of internationalization, such as China Construction Bank announcing their plan to let Bank of America own 20 percent of its shares.
As we cross Qiyi (July 1) Road, we can see World Trade Center Building at the end of the road. This is the tallest building in Dalian. On its right, there used to be Dalian YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), but there now stands a Dalian City Police building. Having crossed the road, we have come to the (5) Dalian City People's Culture Club. It was built in 1951, is the city's most important theater and music hall, with many domestic and overseas orchestra and ballet activities (the admission fee being about 200-300 RMB). The plaque in front of the building shows that, in 1953, Premier Zhou Enlai invited and entertained the Russian soldiers that were stationed in Lushun Port. As the northeastern region of China was liberated mainly by the Russian troupes, there continued a honeymoon period of the Chinese and Russians for a while after the end of WWII. During the 1960s, however, as the ideological war of Communism erupted between PRC and USSR, the Soviets all returned to USSR, leaving Dalian's Stalin Square being renamed as People's Square, and the Russian soldier's bronze statue there being taken away. There now exists Gorky Road, commemorating Maxim Gorky, the proletarian writer of USSR, which is the only foreign place name in Dalian.
We have crossed Minsheng Road and have come to Zhongshan Branch of the Bank of China. This is a wonderful building, isn't it? It was built in 1907 as the Dalian Branch of (6) Yokohama Shokin Bank, a predecessor of the Bank of Tokyo, now part of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. (Note: As the banks in China are open for business every day, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, you can go inside and observe how banking business is done.) Next we'll cross Shanghai Road, along which in the north is the business district where China Netcom, the telephone company covering the area north of the Yangzi River, and China Mobile, the largest mobile phone company in China, are located and where many shops are on Tianjin Road, the busiest shopping area in Dalian. A little north of this area, as you cross the railway at Victory (Shengli) Bridge, formerly known as Nihon-bashi (Riben Qiao), was where Russia had constructed its city government, which is now renovated as the Russian Village. We have crossed Shanghai Road and have come to the Post Office. It was originally built as the (7) Dalian Post Ofice in 1925. It is also a beautiful architecture. It was designed by Shigemitsu Matsumuro, who also designed the City Hall across the square.
We have now crossed Minkan Road and come to a Dorian-style building with front columns, the Dalian Branch of (8) Korean Bank, now used as part of the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. The building was designed by the new Dalian office of Yoshihei Nakamura's Architecture company in Seoul. Before the end of WWII, Korean Bank issued bank notes in Korea and Manchuria, and was engaged in various businesses. Next we have walked through the underground tunnel of Zhongshan Road, and have come to the (9) Dalian Police Department. Built in 1908, it is also a pretty building.. It is now used as the office of the Overseas Economy & Trade Cooperation Committee of Liaoning Province.
Next we will cross Yuguang Road, and come to a new Dalian Financial Building, where Shanghai Pudong Development Bank is located. Here before WWII was (10) the British Consulate, at the back side of which was (11) the Dalian Anglican Church, a red brick building, built in 1928 jointly by the Church of England and the Anglican Church of Japan, that is now used as Yuguang Street Church. This church was designed by Wahlen (sp?), a German architect who lived in Dalian. (Note: You can enter the church premises during the worship hours of Friday evening and Sunday, and buy the Bible or Hymnal at the church shop.) During the Great Cultural Revolution of 1966-77, the religious activities were persecuted and this church was used for the children's after-school activities, but recently the Christian population is increasing. As the pre-war buildings owned by the Japanese people were confiscated as the enemy's properties, the religious building were no exception: the Higashi Hongan Temple on Shengli Road is used as the Beijing Opera Theater, the Presbyterian Church is now an Italian restaurant, the Shintoist shrine on Zhongshan Park is replaced by a Hua Gong (Chinese Castle), etc. The Dalian Catholic Church is an exception, so is the Anglican Church because it was jointly owned by the British, a WWII victor, and the Japanese.
Next we will cross Yan-an Road, along which in the south, on the right, is the Dalian Branch of the Bank of China, and at the end, is Dalian University of Foreign Languages (DUFL). DUFL was started as Premier Zhou Enlai ordered in 1963 to open a Japanese language school in Dalian, an English language school in Shanghai, and a school of other foreign languages (Russian, etc.) in Beijing. DUFL is the center of Japanese studies in China, and many Japanese and Korean students also study Chinese there.
We have crossed Yan-an Road and returned to the Dalian Hotel. Let's cautiously walk to the center of the square. There are about ten squares (rotaries as the Americans call them, or roundabouts as the British call them), but this Zhongshan Square is the best loved by the Dalianites. Both public and private activities are frequently held here, such as social dances, disco parties and gongfu (taijiquan). On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the foreign language corners are also held. Let's go participate in the English or Japanese Corners, and make friends! Please be especially careful in crossing the road back to the bus, parked in front of the Dalian Hotel.
This is the end of the introduction to the buildings on Zhongshan Square in Dalian, China.
The Reference:

1) Yasuhiko Nishizawa, "Zusetsu Dairen Toshi Monogatari" (Tokyo: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 1999) 4-309-72616-X

2) The "Important Buildings Protected by the City of Dalian" includes 100 buildings announced in 2002 and 38 announced in 2004. The lists are available in the Internet in Chinese at: (with pictures)

These lists includes the buildings made not only by the Japanese, but also by the British, Germans, Russians, and Chinese. We must also not forget that the actual construction was mostly done by the Chinese people.

3) Similar to the city list, there are also the "Cultural Units Protected at the Province Level," such as the Dalian Chinese Workers Society Building, across Huanghe Road from Carrefour.


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