Actually, When Shanghai ĘC which means "up to the sea", "by the sea", or "over the sea" in Chinese ĘC first grew from its humble beginnings, it was far from obvious that the world would one day hear its roar. Since then, Shanghai has seen dramatic changes, spinning between the far extremes of Fortune's wheel. However, it is still very hard to give Shanghai a definition, as modernity and antiquity mingle perfectly together in today's Shanghai. Well, without any further adieu, let's follow our guide James West, (who comes all the way from Australia) to explore Shanghai.
James: A number of travelers told me to skip Shanghai, saying "Ehh, there's nothing to see." Well, that depends. For a city of a little over seventeen million people it really does lack the traditional tourist sights. In Shanghai you won't find much in the way of gardens, pagodas, classic Ming Dynasty architecture, natural scenery, or various other symbols of China's past. Except for the Bund, a few scattered neighborhoods across the city, and a few other remnants of Shanghai's colorful history, there is no visible past. But what you will find in Shanghai is the inescapable powerful soul of a city launching an assault on the future at a pace and magnitude which is unparalleled in history.
Oh, yeh, speaking of history, please allow me give you a brief introduction of Shanghai's history. Shanghai has been inhabited for over 2000 years, but for most of its history it was a small fishing village. In the 16th century, a protective wall was erected around the wharf to provide a safe haven from Japanese pirates. With this added security the village grew to maybe 20,000 people and became a textile center as well as a fishing town. It remained that way until 1842 when the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing ended the first Opium War and allowed foreigners the right to settle in various port cities of China.
Immediately came the British, followed by the French in 1847, a general International Settlement in 1863 that merged British and American interests, and then the Japanese in 1895. The British and French both expanded their settlements respectively in 1899 and 1914. Much of the city was taken up by these settlements which operated independently from Chinese law. When the world came to China it was through Shanghai. Huge sums of money poured in.
The Old Shanghai
Old Shanghai was one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities in the early decades of the 20th century, "Paris of the East" they called it. Film houses began making movies in Shanghai and actors like Charlie Chaplin arrived. Christopher Isherwood, Bernard Shaw and Andre Malreaux came to relish its vibrancy for their writing. Jazz wailed and flappers danced. The streets were clogged by rickshaws pulled by the poor in rags, dragging tuxedoed men and gowned debutantes.
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