Suzhou Creek

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"Suzhou River" redirects here. For the film, see Suzhou River (film).
Suzhou Creek (苏州河)
Wusong River (吴淞江)
Suzhou Creek from Waibaidu Bridge, Shanghai.jpg
Suzhou Creek from Waibaidu Bridge
Name origin: City at source
Nickname: "Black and stink"
Country China
Province-level divisions Jiangsu, Shanghai
Part of Huangpu River
City Suzhou, Shanghai
Landmark Waibaidu Bridge
Source Lake Tai
 - coordinates 31°5′35″N 120°35′9″E / 31.09306°N 120.58583°E / 31.09306; 120.58583
Mouth Huangpu River
 - location Shanghai
 - coordinates 31°14′41″N 121°29′13″E / 31.24472°N 121.48694°E / 31.24472; 121.48694Coordinates: 31°14′41″N 121°29′13″E / 31.24472°N 121.48694°E / 31.24472; 121.48694
Length 125 km (78 mi)
Suzhou Creek
Traditional Chinese 蘇州河
Simplified Chinese 苏州河
Postal Map Soochow River
Literal meaning Suzhou River
Wusong River
Traditional Chinese 吳淞江
Simplified Chinese 吴淞江
Postal Map Woosung River
Literal meaning Wusong River

Suzhou Creek, also called Wusong River, is a river that passes through the Shanghai city centre. It is named after the neighbouring city of Suzhou, Jiangsu, the predominant settlement in this area prior to the rise of Shanghai as a metropolis.

One of the principal outlets of Lake Tai in Wujiang District of Suzhou, Suzhou Creek is 125 km (78 mi) long, of which 54 km are within the administrative region of Shanghai and 24 km within the city's highly urbanized parts. It flows into the Huangpu River at the northern end of the Bund in Huangpu District.


The mouth of the river was known in the 4th or 5th century of Jin as 滬瀆 (沪渎, Hù Dú, lit "Harpoon Ditch"), at which time it was the main conduit into the ocean;[1] the contraction ()[2] is today the official abbreviation of Shanghai.

Strategic significance[edit]

Suzhou Creek in 1910.
View of the General Post Office in the 1920s from Garden Bridge.
View of the General Post office in 1987.
View of the General Post Office in 2011 from Garden Bridge.

Suzhou Creek has played an important role for being the demarcation line between political spheres of influences throughout Shanghai's history. After the Treaty of Nanjing forced China to open up in 1842 and Shanghai became an international trade port, the river formed the boundary between the British concession (Southern bank) and the American settlement (Northern bank) until both concessions were merged into the International Settlement in 1863. When the Japanese invaded Shanghai in 1937, the river formed the boundary between the International Settlement (South) and the Japanese concession (North).

Trade route[edit]

Due to Shanghai's role as trade port, from the 1930s Suzhou Creek was an important shipping route, facilitating the transport of goods into the interior of China. Along the river banks, a multitude of warehouses and factories were built at this time, making the region close to the river a significant industrial area.

In the course of urbanization, local industries withdrew from the city centre, leaving the warehouses and factories abandoned. Up to this point, the river had been heavily polluted by industries as well as domestic waste water, making Suzhou Creek locally known as "the smelly river", the most polluted river in Shanghai since the 1920s.

Redevelopment and future[edit]

Since 1992, the Shanghai Municipal Government has been pursuing a redevelopment of the area. In 1998, authorities launched the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project, a 12-year-program to improve the water quality, mitigate flood impact, introduce wastewater and water resource management and push for urban revitalization and a higher living standard in the desolated areas along Suzhou River.[3] In the meantime, Suzhou River is considered clean enough to host annual rowing competitions.

Originally, most old factories and warehouses along Suzhou River were set be demolished in favour of the construction of modern high-rise buildings in Shanghai's fast-developing city centre, aiming at a social and economic regeneration of the Suzhou River area. However, following initiatives of artists in the late 1990s the riverside has been designated as a protected heritage zone and many warehouses have been conserved, now providing quarters for Shanghai's flourishing art scene.

In 2002, new plans for the redevelopment of the riverfront of Suzhou Creek were approved. These plans, based upon proposals by three international firms, call for the construction of entertainment facilities and 1 square kilometre (250 acres) of parks along the downtown section of Suzhou Creek between Zhongshan Park and its confluence with Huangpu River, aiming to raise the commercial attractiveness of this central part of the river. New structures include shops, bars and a total of 95 greenbelts at the banks of the river, which are supposed to be planted by 2010, the time the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project is completed. While some areas already leased to investors will have to be reclaimed and old residential and industrial facilities are supposed to be replaced, authorities assert that the protection of historical buildings, especially warehouses, will be respected.

Places along the river[edit]

Due to its location in the former International Settlement, a number of landmarks from that period can be found along or close to Suzhou Creek. Following the river westward from its confluence, important or famous places include:[4]

In the Suzhou area, where the same river is rather called Wosong River, it passes by Suzhou Industrial Park and Suzhou Dushu Lake Higher Education Town, and connects via Huodi Pond and Dushu Lake to the Grand Canal.


Suzhou Creek is crossed by a number of distinctive bridges, often European in style, the most famous one being Waibaidu Bridge (Garden Bridge) right at its confluence with Huangpu River.

Facilitating north-south traffic in the ever-growing metropolis, a number of new bridges are currently being constructed. Gubei Road bridge, to be opened in late 2006, will be the longest bridge over the waterway. By 2007, there will be thirty bridges spanning Suzhou Creek in Shanghai. In the Suzhou area, another 18 bridges are crossing the river as of 2015.

In the media[edit]

The Suzhou Creek plays a pivotal role in Lou Ye's film Suzhou River, which shows the lives of ordinary people living in the old quarters of the northern bank of the river at the turn of the millennium, rather than showcasing modern Shanghai.[citation needed]

In the film Empire of the Sun, Suzhou Creek has an internment camp/POW camp near an airfield.


  1. ^ Shanghai Municipal Government. ""申","沪"的由来" ("Origins of Shen and Hu"). (Chinese)
  2. ^ Traditional Chinese: ; Shanghainese: Vu2.
  3. ^ "Transforming An Urban Waterway — Shanghai, China". 12 Cases of Cleanup and Success 2009. 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Li Anlan (30 April 2013). "Sights to see along Suzhou Creek". iDEALShanghai. Retrieved 14 October 2013.