Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Broadway Mansions Gang

By Paul French, March 9, 2018

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Paul French, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in Peking, is back in China in March presenting  City of Devils in Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing. The book sees him delve into the murky underworld of Old Shanghai. There were plenty of wrong'uns about, and a whole lot of bad blood between them. In this 'Gangs of Old Shanghai' series, French presents us with a who's who of old time organized crime, and quite the rogues gallery it is too.


The Broadway Mansions Gang

Boss: Unknown
Base: Broadway Mansions, North Soochow Road (Bei Suzhou Lu)

The Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club had a whole floor of the Art Deco-style Broadway Mansions overlooking Suzhou Creek. Elly ‘the Swiss’ Widler also had a pad there, and it is thought he introduced a group of enterprising young White Russian boys – who liked to train in a local boxing gym by day, and a game of cards at night – to the landlord.

They took a floor, and set up high stakes card games that ran 24/7, manning the landings and stairways to make sure the take never got boosted by some chancer looking to get rich quick. It never did. Many foreign journalists passed by, tried their luck, and kissed their monthly paycheck goodbye.

The Broadway Mansions card games were not for amateurs; serious money, serious players, seriously long-running. And leaving a bad debt with the Russian boys at Broadway Mansions was not the way to enjoy a long and healthy life.


Paul French will be one of the featured authors at Shanghai Literary Festival 2018 at M Glam on March 15 at 6pm and March 17 at 12pm. See event listings here and here.

He will be at the Bookworm in Suzhou on March 19, see event listing here.

He will be at the Bookworm in Beijing on March 21 and March 22, and hosting a pair of walking tours in Beijing on March 24 and March 31.

To read about more Gangs of Old Shanghai, click here.

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