Peering through gates – the construction zone that is Fuxing Road

15 Sep
Peering in

Peering in

I don’t remember when I first started to notice the changes.  I don’t walk down that stretch of Fuxing Road every day, but at least once every couple of weeks.

It must have been two years ago – the first signs.  Second story windows were boarded up – the businesses started leaving to be replaced by itinerant watermelon stands or pop-up fur coat sellers.

Then last year – the bricks started to appear.  I now understand that is the beginning of the end for the low apartment blocks that line Shanghai’s streets.  When the bricks appear, the complex is doomed.

The bricks...

The bricks…

Slowly, the street turned from a pretty tree lined home into a ruin.

Six months ago a good friend pulled me into the still living complex at night.  It was a rainy evening and the rain gave an other-worldly feeling about the place.  We wandered and gawked, feeling slightly guilty at intruding into an area which was obviously dying.  Now, things have deteriorated even further.

Tricycles line up each day to cart away the parts of the houses and their contents that still have value.  Sometimes it is foam, wood, even wire.  Men are dwarfed by the enormous loads.

These are small loads on the carts - some can be triple or quadruple this size.

These are small loads on the carts – some can be triple or quadruple this size.

From the street the buildings don’t look inhabitable, but among the wreckage I can sometimes see laundry drying on a line or a bicycle carefully parked by an abandoned doorway.  The final squatters won’t go until the heavy equipment comes in.  How long that will be, I don’t know.

A view on the other side of the fence - would you guess this is Shanghai?

A view on the other side of the fence – would you guess this is Shanghai?

Some people call photos like these “ruin porn” – I can understand why.  It is so difficult to look away and so easy to imagine that that was once your home – now turned into a shell of its former self – soon to disappear forever.

And what will they build?  Likely something like what is across the street – a complex with guards and pretty landscaping and tall buildings.   It looks very nice.  A place with fully functional plumbing, a place that is clean and safe and costs millions of dollars to buy a unit.  The rent for one month could be six months salary for those who originally lived across the street.

The future - a very nice place to live?

The future – a very nice place to live?

Where will those people go?  Where have they gone? Is this progress?


This is my Shanghai.


4 Responses to “Peering through gates – the construction zone that is Fuxing Road”

  1. Every Day Adventures in Asia September 15, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Neighbourhoods to have their ‘life cycles’ and the only constant seems to be change. Thank you for capturing and sharing this slice into the ‘other’ Shanghai.

    Each time I travel to a different part of Mumbai, I see changes. The route I took to my 1st job in Mumbai has a large buffalo bazaar and the turn in to the office road always had a sign indicating the local ‘wanted’ ads for livestock. That has long since been demolished to make way for an industrial concrete jungle.

    Even the local ‘heritage’ street near my house lined with quaint 150+ year old bungalows that are meant to be preserved, ‘oops’ get torn down to be replaced by ugly square multi-storied monstrosities.

    Good, bad, beautiful or ugly, this transformation and its impact on the lives of people who no doubt once flourished in a particular place, can’t be halted.

    • gkm2011 September 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Yes, it can’t be halted – so capturing it is important. I fear though that in another 10 years Shanghai will have nothing left of its history. People are so willing to destroy things – when will they be appreciated again? I don’t know.

  2. expatlingo September 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    The whole back story about compensation for property takings in China is a whole other can of worms…

    • gkm2011 September 15, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      I’m not willing to go into that here, but you’re right – that’s a whole other ball of wax…

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