Longchang Apartments: Shanghai’s Real “Pig Cage Stronghold”

An old Shanghai courtyard building where many people live in one-room apartments.

From Sina:

The “Pig Cage Stronghold” in “Kung Fu Hustle” is a building that surrounds a courtyard. In this small little courtyard, people do everything, and many generations live together. This here is Shanghai’s real “Pig Cage Stronghold”– Longchang Apartments on 362 Longchang Road. It is very characteristic!

The "Pig Cage Stockade" in Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" movie.

Life in the “Pig Cage Stronghold” remained the same for several decades after the establishment of the new China. However, it is no longer called “Pig Cage Stronghold”, and is now called “Tongzilou”: a building with a  long corridor with balconies on one side and uniform single-roomed apartments on the other. The corridors/hallways are shared, the balconies are open, and the apartments do not have kitchens or bathrooms. The people who live here are employees of state-owned enterprises, singles get one room, while those with families get two rooms, and not far is a kitchen.

The doors are across from the balconies and the balconies are the length of each room. People hang their washed clothes to dry around the balconies as well as placing potted flowers and plants, and are careful not to infringe one inch upon their neighbor’s boundaries. These are all unwritten rules, because there is a shortage of private and public space, and everyone will fight for it.

The public toilet is overcrowded, and , and peeking incidents easily happen. Whatever a neighbor eats today, whatever guests come, whatever nice things are purchased, whatever happens are all things that cannot be hidden [from others]. Children crying or screaming from being punished or scolded, and two people quarreling are daily sounds, like listening to popular music.

None of the apartments have their own kitchen or bathrooms.

Everyone hangs their clothes out to dry.

This old courtyard apartment complex in Shanghai looks like one in Kung Fu Hustle.

The trash container or furnace for the courtyard apartment complex.

Washed clothes hanging out to dry on poles.

An old lady looks out from her balcony.

Neighbors on a balcony, while a housewife uses a washing machine below.

A dramatic picture looking up the wall of the apartment complex.

Some neighbors eat and talk outside of their apartment.

A view of the trash area for the apartment complex.

A view of the courtyard apartment complex's courtyard, staircase, bicycles, and drying laundry.

An old Chinese woman with a plastic basin in the hallway.

A row of bicycles and mail boxes in a courtyard building in Shanghai.

Two old Chinese ladies chat next to some drying laundry.

Two Chinese children play on a balcony.

An entrance into the courtyard apartment complex.

A Chinese woman place some shoes on a wall as the sun sets in Shanghai.

Comments from XCar:

It has been many years. In 1996, I went to see it once because of its reputation. Later, I could no longer find it again. I thought it had been demolished. Apparently it is still there.

I bet it is Stephen Chow’s property.

It is rare to see already. Evidence of Shanghai’s history.

Are you stupid? At the time, those who could live in this kind of place had to have some ability!
—What is so strange?
This is the real Shanghai!!!

Has this building been in many movies before? It looks very familiar.

Comments from Mop:

Art from life?

Photographic art of Shanghai’s lowest level of society.

Feels very lively…very good, I really like this kind of life.
Except at night~[having sex] would not be convenient.

The world is so big, and the world is so small.

This place [Shanghai] is too expensive, 18 square meters apartment, no private bathroom or kitchen, is also 3-400,000 RMB per apartment…Shanghai’s housing prices…frighteningly expensive.

Now I realize, having an 80 square meter home is already a blessing.

Living in this kind of place, you will never feel lonely.

Louzhu, you internet spy!
How could our socialist harmonious society have this kind of building?
I do not believe!
Down with saboteurs who slander China’s harmonious society!

So Stephen Chow’s movie really was based on real life…

Not bad, it is good just to have some place to live. I imagine most of these are renters who came from outside of Shanghai, so living a little poorly is no big deal, and being able to earn money is more important. Of those who work in Shanghai, which wai di ren‘s home [in their hometown] is not [at least] a two-story little building? Only Shanghainese people can work a lifetime and still only have a few dozen square meters!

To tell the truth, this kind of building with rooms on both sides or courtyard building is very cozy, with neighbors being very frank with each other. When the adults cannot get home, the children will definitely not go hungry. If you forget to close the door, things will not go missing. If there is trouble in the home, there will be many people who will come help and care. Whichever family is making wontons or bought something delicious to eat, they will share with everyone. In the summer, it is very cozy when a group of people will sit out in the open watching television, chatting, and enjoying the cool.  To this day, I still reminisce about the period of my childhood when I lived in a single-story apartment. The only unfortunate thing was that there were no telephones then, and as people moved away, we could no longer stay in touch. Unlike now, where although the living environment has improved, the moment we return home we just shut the door, and after N number of years we do not know even know what our neighbors are called or how many people they have…a small sigh.

So Shanghai still has this kind of place.
So why do they still look down on wai di ren?
I really do not understand.

Do not just post Shanghai,
you should specify where.
Only this way will it be persuasive.
I really do not what you have against Shanghai,
or are you a Korean spy,
intentionally coming to defame Shanghai’s image?
[This person maybe did not see the address in the original post.]

09/01/23 UPDATE: Shanghaiist has a post with a cool video of the Longchamps Apartments by The Guardian:

See Also:


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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