On the weekends, I’m generally solo with my kids. Their dad is often out of town and I actively insist that my mother-in-law take time off when I’m not working. With no ayi on the weekends, this time becomes English-speaking “mommy time.” So, this past Sunday morning, we spontaneously made our way to 751 “to see the big train.”
The Ace Café, just newly opened in July of 2015, is a monumental structure built where an earlier Ace Café had been established in 1938. The vintage locomotive that sits outside is striking and photo-worthy, and the ample public square that sits between the café and the small roadway within the gallery district’s north side is a great place for kids to play.
We didn’t eat at the café because it was early morning but I took pictures as my 3-year-old asked me why the train wasn’t moving, why the tracks just stopped, why the wheels were red, etc. She was completely confounded by this strange train that looks nothing like the train that takes her back to my husband’s home city in Shandong province with her grandparents!
The original café was destroyed by fire in 1940. Missing from the historical plaque (pictured?) are the more juicy details, namely how a café – especially one linked in name and history to the London establishment – survived the political movements in China over the next four decades. Like, who set it on fire? Had I not had my two rug rats, I would have politely asked a few leading questions about the site’s history. I’m so curious!
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift