Shanghai starts search for its heritage

Published on Author Joshua Benjamin

In Shanghai, city officials are now beginning to look at preservation of buildings and locations to keep Chinese history alive.  This is an interesting movement in a city known for modernity in China and where history has previously been razed to put up skyscrapers.  Real estate is of high value in Shanghai and preservation of historical sites has been put on the backburner until recently.  China has such a rich and long history, but tourists and young citizens are not able to recognize it through their cities.  The city officials are not only saving buildings that represent a “role in Communist party or colonial history, but also the very fabric of city life, from old docks to disused factories to crumbling neighbourhoods.”  This story marks a shift from when preservation was subordinate to development and now it has become a reversal.  This is a good sign in a country where their urban cities are becoming increasingly overrun with developments and people.

Source: Financial Times Article

2 Responses to Shanghai starts search for its heritage

  1. Ironic, because as China goes, Shanghai doesn’t have much history — it’s really a late-19th-century creation. Still, higher incomes do lead to greater tourism and other, less pecuniary factors that make preserving things local more valuable. It helps when it’s scattered locations and not an entire district — that latter face huge pressure for (re)development, but small & scattered sites are less attractive. So that’s another component: higher demand for “preservation” and lower opportunity costs (in relative terms) to doing so.

  2. Shanghai city officials are also motivated by profit. Even though Shanghai doesn’t have much of a history, the government recognizes the profit possibilities from increasing tourist appeals. Although tourism is very important, Shanghai officials must consider how the citizens of Shanghai will feel about the preservation of old buildings and a shift of focus from modern architecture.