最经典的弄堂是从“石库门” 开始的,有石框的黑门,进门是天井,两侧是厢房,从天井进客堂,后头有通向二楼内室的楼梯,有朝北的亭子间,通过客堂去后天井,和厨房、储藏室等附属用房。

It describes ordinary lanes thronged together in a particularly Shanghainese way--crammed. Living in them requires plenty of Shanghai ingenuity.
During the short period between the late 1800s to the 1930s, almost 23 million square meters of houses in nongtang covered most of Shanghai.
It was the time of Shanghai’s big growth spurt.
It was also when East was meeting West. Nongtangs reflect this mixing with their Chinese structure and European joining, houses extending one after the other in row after row. Like a chessboard, the Xiaoqu, or residential quarters, laid the foundations of the whole city.
A typical nongtang starts from a shikumen, a black door framed with stone. Inside is a small yard called tianjing, flanked by two wings. Entering the reception area, you will see stairs leading to the second floor and a garret facing north. Walking through to the backyard, you will encounter the kitchen, storeroom, and other common use rooms.
New nongtangs are more Western, with cement walls, steel-framed windows and toilets.
In the 1930s, sumptuous garden nongtangs, which contain rows of western-style houses, emerged on Fuxing Road and Hengshan Road in the French Concession; each house had three or four rooms and a gorgeous garden in front. This kind of elegance and luxury, however, deviated from the original spirit of nongtang, which were built for the density of the masses.
Then, the continual Nongtang construction, which had lasted for more than half a century, came to an end.
But not far in the recent past, nongtang was still the most important living style. Shanghai’s longtime prosperity was the reason. Immigrants seeking their fortune flowed in nonstop, causing rapid growth in the population. With space at a minimum, the nongtangs were filled to bursting. Every nongtang was like its own little world, a snail’s shell into which the Shanghainese retreated after a day out in the world.
Then the new prosperous era came and pushed over old Shanghai.
Over the past ten years, nongtangs have been demolished at such a rate that the concept of nongtang itself is also fading out. Now the phrase has become a synonym for street. Its great beauty exists only in memory. The sturdiness of the bricks, the lines of the windows, the color of the wooden stairs…all the exquisite, beautiful details.
Nowadays, the nongtang idea is a slice of Shanghai’s past, a testament to the great changes that are always happening in this city.


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