Urban Shanghai

4 Sep

A construction site near my yoga studio – the old being replaced by the new, framed by a blue sky

An “empty” storefront, that for the last three and a half years was a home and business.

As I have been getting used to my brand new phone, I have been taking pictures at random intervals, including a few that I snapped last weekend on the street.  Shortly after that I realized that the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge had a topic called “Urban.”  I’m a little late on that topic, but I thought these two photos fit very well.

Shanghai is a city of contradictions – the old and the new coexist painfully and with a relentless pace the old is losing ground.  I’ve now lived in the same area for 4 years and more and more old is disappearing, or has been abandoned.  The march of “progress” continues.

I don’t want to romanticize the historic houses.  They often have no hot water, no indoor plumbing, the kitchens are outside or under a small overhang.  If you didn’t have running water or a toilet and someone offered to relocate you, you may think carefully as well about leaving.  The question will be – what will replace them?

In my complex I speak to my next door neighbors, a Mr. Ge and his wife and his son, very rarely.  We nod politely in the elevator or when we happen to be outside at the same time.  That’s it.  Is that what will happen with all the people in the street, living together, playing cards and mah jong?  That’s what has happened in the US.

China still doesn’t seem to see the value of preserving – of restoring – of remembering the past.  Progress, move forward, forget the past – prosperity for all.

Come visit Shanghai before it’s too late.  I have a spare room.  Hope to see you soon.


8 Responses to “Urban Shanghai”

  1. Abc in shanghai September 4, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    … Kinda sounds like China’s not too distant past – can you say Cultural Revolution principles? Abolish the old, the big leap forward …

    • gkm2011 September 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      Does sound something like that…

  2. abc in shanghai September 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    also, i’ve been watching this particular block since i arrived in sh. it’s amazing how many hold outs are still hanging on. i suspect the remaining folks will finally call it quits in a years time or so. across the street construction is well on its way and remember it too was similar

    • gkm2011 September 12, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      The speed of change is so quick that when you are in the middle of it I think we don’t notice. I tend to notice after I’ve been away for a little while. No doubt you’re right – the construction will continue it’s never-ending process.

  3. Naomi Baltuck September 20, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    I really enjoy your perspective, and hearing about your life there.

    • gkm2011 September 20, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Comments like this encourages me to keep on posting. Thanks for following Naomi.


  1. Two different worlds « 中国 Jumble - September 13, 2012

    […] think of a world where you would do that?  I’m having a pretty tough time.  I wrote about Urban Shanghai last week and the contrast between old and new and this struck me in the same way – but at a […]

  2. The fifth quarter update « 中国 Jumble - October 16, 2012

    […] and when I snapped photos of the abandonment of buildings near a very popular street I live on in Urban Shanghai.  These posts make me think and hopefully remember a specific point in time in this changing […]

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