The Shikumen style, the iconic architectural style which is typical of Shanghai, combining Western and Chinese aspects (appearing for the first time in 1860), never loses its appeal. The limited number of two-level houses of exposed brick which create maze-like neighbourhoods, such as the pedestrian area of Xintiandi, are now the commercial heart of the city, centres of nightlife and fashionable neighbourhoods, but thanks to conservation efforts, the ancient atmosphere of the Shanghai that once was is still quite present. Xintiandi still maintains vestiges of its important history. In fact, it was here that the First National Congress of the Communist Party took place in 1921. It is well worth exploring the crowded sides-streets and majestic tree-lined thoroughfares of the former French Concession (the residential neighbourhood for Westerners from 1850 to 1960), overlooked by buildings, historic residences and monumental gardens leading to Fuxing Park. These green areas allow inhabitants to enjoy the beauty of nature, European cultural influences from the 1800s and traditional Chinese aspects. Along the wide streets, flower-adorned archways and orderly flowerbeds, residents (especially the elderly) amuse themselves with games of Chess and Majong, exercise and, especially, Tai Chi, as well as a fascinating tradition of writing on the ground itself with sponge brushes dipped only in water.