The Bund

Shanghai, China

The Bund

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The Bund or Waitan (Chinese: 外滩; pinyin: Wàitān, Shanghainese romanization: Nga3thae1, pronounced [ŋà.tʰɛ́], lit. 'Outer Beach') is a waterfront area and a protected historical district in central Shanghai. The area centers on a section of Zhongshan Road (East Zhongshan Road No.1) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. From the 1860s to the 1930s, it was the rich and powerful center of the foreign establishment in Shanghai, operating as a legally protected treaty port.

The word bund - from the Persian word band, through Hindustani - means "embankment", "levee" or "dam" (a cognate of the English terms "bind", "bond" and "band", and the German word "Bund"). Mumbai's Apollo Bunder and city names like Bandar Abbas and Banda Aceh share the same etymology. The various "bunds" in east Asia, may therefore be named after the bunds/levees in Baghdad along the Tigris, given by the immigrating Baghdadi Jews, like the prominent Baghdadi Sassoon family who settled their businesses in Shanghai, and other port cities in east Asia in the 19th century, and heavily built up their harbors. In these Chinese port cities, the English term came to mean, especially, the embanked quay along the shore. In English, "Bund" is pronounced to rhyme with "fund" (for example, the Yokohama Bund). However, "The Bund", without qualification to location, usually refers to this stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai.

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