Saturday, 24 March 2018

Shanghai: Day 3

Now this is more like it. Some of the real city.

After yesterday's dispiriting trudge through some of Shanghai's more tedious neighbourhoods in the pouring rain, I found where I wanted to be. Namely, the districts that are being eaten alive in the name of progress.

The last time I came to Shanghai I found myself in one of these old 1920s/30s districts, near the central rail station. It was even then in 2005 already surrounded on all sides by high rise apartment buildings. Unfortunately I don't know whether the district I went to previously still exists or not - I am not sure precisely where I was. I do know that it had some life to it, with holes in the wall serving delicious (and to me totally unknown) food.

The city of Shanghai seems to be allowing most of these old districts to simply decay away from neglect until they are no longer fit for human habitation. And then they will be cleared to make way for the new: waterfront luxury apartment buildings and shopping malls. What happens to the people living in these districts however is a different question: given that some of the areas I saw today looked absolutely derelict but still had people living in them suggests that the people living there won't have the money to live nearby once the area has been redeveloped.

Gentrification. It's happening in Shanghai too.