National Geographic : 2010 Mar
and West. "In foreigners' eyes Shanghai is part of 'mysterious China,' " says Zhou Libo, a local co- median. "In the eyes of other Chinese, Shanghai is part of the outside world." An upstart by Chinese standards, Shanghai--- unlike imperial Beijing---was just a modest sh- ing town a century and a half ago. e city was born with a sense of manifest destiny. In the beginning it was a foreign dream, a Western treaty port trading opium for tea and silk. e muscular buildings along the riverfront known as the Bund (a word derived from Hindi) pro- jected foreign, not Chinese, power. From around the world came waves of immigrants, creating an exotic stew of British bankers and Russian dancing girls, American missionaries and French socialites, Jewish refugees and turbaned Sikh security guards. By the 1930s Shanghai was among the ten largest cities in the world. But it was like no other place on Earth: a mixed-blood metropolis with a reputation for easy money---and easier morals. e British, French, and Americans carved the city into concessions, building gracious homes along tree-lined streets. Local shops carried the latest fashions and luxuries. e racecourse dominated the center of town, while the city's nightlife o ered everything from dance halls and social clubs to opium dens and brothels. (At one time, Shanghai reputedly had more prostitutes than any other city in the world.) e whole enterprise, however, rested on the NOTHING IS PERMANENT. at's the lesson facing student Chen Sudan, visiting her father at a demolition site near the docks. A laborer from Anhui Province, he squats in one of the doomed buildings until it comes time to help tear it down and move on. Urban renewal projects have uprooted nearly a million households.