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Showing posts from August, 2013

The Great 40th Anniversary Escapade, Part 2: Old Shanghai-once known as "The Paris of the Orient"--and the Vanishing Shikuman Lanes

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I came to Shanghai looking for "old Shanghai".  Too romantic!  China wants to be MODERN.  The first impression visitors to the city get is row after row of soldier-like skyscraper style apartment buildings--and a white polluted sky that never went away.  It was depressing!

There are some charming areas left in the city, but they are fast disappearing. Built starting in the 1860's and called Shikuman style houses, these neighborhoods of row houses with their beautifully carved doorways called  "Stone Hooped Doorways" are lovely.  At the peak, there were more than 6000 homes like these in Shanghai, looping through alleys no more than 6 feet wide.  Inside the doorway, there is a courtyard, a living room known as a parlor, and right and left wing rooms. There is a second story and a roof with living space.  As Shanghai got more and more populous, many families rented out their extra rooms.  These Shikuman Lanes were considered dilapidated, crowded and wretched.  …