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Gaodi Street – Hidden History of Guangzhou

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Written by: Cindy ZHANG
Photo by:From the website
Edited by:James Campion, WANG Mengyu |  Date:2017/12/05148 Hits

There is a local saying here in Guangzhou: "If you haven't been to Gaodi Street, then you haven’t been to Guangzhou." For those who have a bit knowledge of Guangzhou, they would have heard of roads like Beijing Road or Shangxiajiu pedestrian Street. But when they are asked about Gaodi Street, you can surely see confused looks on their faces. So, if you want to know the valuable history of the city, why not take Gaodi Street as a starter.

 

 

Gaodi Street in Guangzhou

 

Gaodi Street, known as China's famous underwear and belt wholesale market today, has a glorious past that you cannot imagine. It was a historic commercial trading market which had existed for over 100 years and had become a famous commercial center of Guangzhou long before the New China was founded.

 

There are many sayings about the origin of the name of Gaodi Street. It is said that once there was a girl from a rich family living in the street, fell in love with a beggar called Gaodi. However, their relationship was exposed by a servant of her family. The two lovebirds ran away to start a new life. Years later when they came back to the street, they found that the girl's family was no longer prosperous as it used to be. They bought the whole street and named it after the man – Gaodi. Some historians also say that back in the Song Dynasty, the street, overlooking the Pearl River, attracted many famous merchants and prestigious families. Meaning prestigious in Chinese, the street got its name as Gaodi.

 

A glimpse of the old Gaodi Street

 

Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, Gaodi Street gained a great reputation by selling groceries from Suzhou and Hangzhou, and therefore was also known as Suhang Street. From combs and mirrors to delicate clothes and wedding dresses, you could have everything prepared for marriage inside of the street. Then in the Republic Period, many famous clothes shops for both traditional and stylish clothing could be found here. Using many creative marketing skills like prize draw and window display, which are still of common use today, it led the trend of selling at that time. The famous family XU that rooted in the street, built ancestral halls, antique gardens and theater stages, although most of which are gone with time passing.

 

Inheriting its commercial tradition, Gaodi Street has been developed to be an underwear and belt wholesale business district. Gaodi Street is nownorth to Haizhu Square and it's really close to Beijing Road. Compared with its unusual past, Gaodi Street is now more like a common pedestrian that's filled with all kinds of groceries. The former commercial center has finally slowed down its pace and becomes lazier. Yet the remaining ancestral halls and other historic buildings are still quietly telling their stories of the good old days to whoever is willing to listen.

 

Shop owners carrying groceries in the rain

 

Here in Gaodi Street, we have stories to tell. Would you like to come and listen?