Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today we are going to visit Zhongyang Street. This is the downtown area. In order to better know the street, we are going to walk through it, which takes about 40 minutes. Those who do not like walking may keep seated, our coach will go along another street and stop at the Flood Control Monument. Those who cannot walk that far may take a taxi to the Flood Control Monument. Now let6’s get off the coach, and take a walk on Zhongyang Street.
Zhongyang Street measures 1450 meters from Jingwei Street in the south to the Flood Control Monument on the riverbank in the north. This is China’s longest walkway. The street was built at the end of the last century. It was connected to a wharf at the Songhua River. Because of the constant transport of the goods needed for building the China Eastern Railway, a shopping center began to take shape along this street at the turn of the century. Harbin at that time was a semi-colonial city with a foreign population of many thousands. Politics and economy were actually controlled by foreign powers. Owing to the concentration of Chinese shops along this street, foreigners took it as a China town and called it China Street.
Have you noticed the cobbled road surface? This is the only cobbled street left in Harbin. This cobbled street was paved in 1925. Thanks to the good quality, the street has kept in good shape with a few repairs in the past. This street began to take shape as an international street in the 1920s. There were over a hundred shops and many were owned by forergners, such as Russians, Greeks, Czechs, Swedes, Swiss, Frenchmen, Germans and Englishmen. They built their shops in their individual styles. Therefore, the street not only looked like a foreign street, but also was controlled by foreigners. Now this smooth cobbled street may remind us of the past when foreigners were sitting in chariots along the street, as if we could still hear the horse-hoofs clicking on cobbles.
Over half a century is past , Zhongyang Street is weather-beaten. With the implementation of reform and opening-up, it is ready to welcome visitors with a new outlook.
The building in front of us is very attractive. Its some and arched windows are typical of the Byzantine Style popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was built in 1934 and it was a shoe shop owned by a Czech. After liberation, it became a specialty shop-Women and Children’s Department Store. It is the biggest specialty shop along Zhongyang Street. There are a good variety of commodities. Now some world famous specialty chains have also set up branches down here, such as Crocodile, Bossini and so on. You can see some gentlemen also wandering in the Women and Children’s Department Store. At such a good shopping place, they will not walk out empty-handed.