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Photos of Shanghai During the First Half of the 20th Century

1930, Zhou Xuan (third from left), the star singer known as the “Golden Voice”. She initially performed in the Bright Moonlight Singing and Dancing Troupe and later became a famous movie star, playing the leading role in 43 films. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

This is a city full of freedom factor, where the people here exchange cigarettes, rice, and intelligence. Here in this place were international settlements [foreign concessions], but profiting from disaster, it become the number one financial center for the Far East. Today, news of a Shanghai Free Trade Zone has people in anticipation, for the return of an atmosphere of freedom. Compiled by Wen Xuan. Cover photo by Corbis. Some photographs provided by Post Wave Publishing.

From NetEase:

Free Shanghai

This is a city full of freedom factor, where the people here exchange cigarettes, rice, and intelligence. Here in this place were international settlements [foreign concessions], but profiting from disaster, it become the number one financial center for the Far East. Today, news of a Shanghai Free Trade Zone has people in anticipation, for the return of an atmosphere of freedom. Compiled by Wen Xuan. Cover photo [above] by Corbis. Some photographs provided by Post Wave Publishing. [Click photos to enlarge or view as slideshow.]

The development of “Modern Shanghai” started at the beginning of the 20th century. Municipal government and public facilities brought by international settlements; telegrams, telephones, and movies, balls, and other Western lifestyles brought by technological development; these factors collectively created a unique city: Shanghai. Photo is of 1902, of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps proceeding along Nanjing Road, participating in a parade. The Shanghai Volunteer Corps were established in 1853, with the purpose of protecting foreigners against the chaos of war. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

The development of “Modern Shanghai” started at the beginning of the 20th century. Municipal government and public facilities brought by international settlements; telegrams, telephones, and movies, balls, and other Western lifestyles brought by technological development; these factors collectively created a unique city: Shanghai. Photo is of 1902, of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps proceeding along Nanjing Road, participating in a parade. The Shanghai Volunteer Corps were established in 1853, with the purpose of protecting foreigners against the chaos of war. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

Photo is of 1906, Shanghai’s business street. At the time, Shanghai had already become the most bustling city in China’s East and even the entire country, with flourishing commerce. Getty/UIG

Photo is of 1906, Shanghai’s business street. At the time, Shanghai had already become the most bustling city in China’s East and even the entire country, with flourishing commerce. Getty/UIG

Due to the needs of trade communications and the development of telegraph technology, Shanghai’s banking business developed quickly, already becoming one of the Far East’s financial hubs by the start of the 20th century. Photo is of 1913, inside the International Savings Society on Shanghai’s Avenue Edward (today’s Yan’an East Road). The International Savings Society was established by the French in October 1912, where it operated until 1937 when it was outlawed by the Nationalist government. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

Due to the needs of trade communications and the development of telegraph technology, Shanghai’s banking business developed quickly, already becoming one of the Far East’s financial hubs by the start of the 20th century. Photo is of 1913, inside the International Savings Society on Shanghai’s Avenue Edward (today’s Yan’an East Road). The International Savings Society was established by the French in October 1912, where it operated until 1937 when it was outlawed by the Nationalist government. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

Apart from feelings of unfairness brought by the foreign concessions, Shanghai locals also accepted the dividends brought by the foreign concessions. It became China’s fastest developing city at the beginning of the 20th century, escaping the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and Boxers catastrophes, the people here also being the very first to experience a true modern city, experience the media, advertisements, films, high-level education, etc. Photo is of Shanghai in the early 20th century, near the Hongkou market, where everyday were many local fishermen, peasant farmers, and butchers came to sell their goods. Corbis

Apart from feelings of unfairness brought by the foreign concessions, Shanghai locals also accepted the dividends brought by the foreign concessions. It became China’s fastest developing city at the beginning of the 20th century, escaping the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and Boxers catastrophes, the people here also being the very first to experience a true modern city, experience the media, advertisements, films, high-level education, etc. Photo is of Shanghai in the early 20th century, near the Hongkou market, where everyday were many local fishermen, peasant farmers, and butchers came to sell their goods. Corbis

1907, workers for The Shanghai Electric Construction Co. Ltd. on Nanjing Road laying streetcar trolley rails. This was Shanghai’s first railed streetcar line, that ran mostly along the business street, from Jingan Temple to the Shanghai Club Building, a total of 6.04 kilometers, its main stop located at the Shanghai Club Building. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

1907, workers for The Shanghai Electric Construction Co. Ltd. on Nanjing Road laying streetcar trolley rails. This was Shanghai’s first railed streetcar line, that ran mostly along the business street, from Jingan Temple to the Shanghai Club Building, a total of 6.04 kilometers, its main stop located at the Shanghai Club Building. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

1911 Xinhai Revolution and Shanghai Recovery, during the chaotic state of affairs in the nation, the state of affairs in foreign concessions/international settlements were relatively stable. All the way until 1936, Shanghai’s international settlements were all in a state of high prosperity. Photo is of the Shanghai Jardine Silk Factory between 1910-1912, where the manager and his wife pose for a photograph among the rows of silk reeling machines. This silk factory and the later cotton yarn factory were important parts of Shanghai’s early industrial output, and one of Jardine Matheson‘s earliest industries, exporting silk to various parts of the world. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

1911 Xinhai Revolution and Shanghai Recovery, during the chaotic state of affairs in the nation, the state of affairs in foreign concessions/international settlements were relatively stable. All the way until 1936, Shanghai’s international settlements were all in a state of high prosperity. Photo is of the Shanghai Jardine Silk Factory between 1910-1912, where the manager and his wife pose for a photograph among the rows of silk reeling machines. This silk factory and the later cotton yarn factory were important parts of Shanghai’s early industrial output, and one of Jardine Matheson‘s earliest industries, exporting silk to various parts of the world. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

At the beginning of the 20th century, movies were one of the most important entertainments for people in Shanghai. In the 1920s, Shanghai had 40,000 theater seats, extremely high attendance, and the most popular movies were wuxia [martial arts] and family dramas. Photo is of the office of the Star Film and Theater School that was founded in 1922. This company made many of the most successful films of the time as well as trained a group of the most dazzling stars of the Shanghai Bund. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

At the beginning of the 20th century, movies were one of the most important entertainments for people in Shanghai. In the 1920s, Shanghai had 40,000 theater seats, extremely high attendance, and the most popular movies were wuxia [martial arts] and family dramas. Photo is of the office of the Star Film and Theater School that was founded in 1922. This company made many of the most successful films of the time as well as trained a group of the most dazzling stars of the Shanghai Bund. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

1930, Zhou Xuan (third from left), the star singer known as the “Golden Voice”. She initially performed in the Bright Moonlight Singing and Dancing Troupe and later became a famous movie star, playing the leading role in 43 films. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

1930, Zhou Xuan (third from left), the star singer known as the “Golden Voice”. She initially performed in the Bright Moonlight Singing and Dancing Troupe and later became a famous movie star, playing the leading role in 43 films. (Photo source: Shanghai: 1842-2010, Portrait of a Great City Post Wave Publishing)

Apart from films, sports competitions and the like had also become a pursuit of high society. They never tired of tennis, horse racing and similar sports. Quite a few foreigners established jockey clubs and such organizations here [in Shanghai]. Photo is of three sisters awaiting the start of a tennis match. Corbis.

Apart from films, sports competitions and the like had also become a pursuit of high society. They never tired of tennis, horse racing and similar sports. Quite a few foreigners established jockey clubs and such organizations here [in Shanghai]. Photo is of three sisters awaiting the start of a tennis match. Corbis.

Relying on its unique political system and advantageous geography, Shanghai, after being opened up as a port, gradually became the most prosperous center of trade in the Far East, regarded as a “paradise for adventurers”, with the people who came all expressing an attitude of “doing business big, or not doing it at all”. Photo is of Shanghai’s riverbank pedestrian street around the 1930s in the 20th century. AFP

Relying on its unique political system and advantageous geography, Shanghai, after being opened up as a port, gradually became the most prosperous center of trade in the Far East, regarded as a “paradise for adventurers”, with the people who came all expressing an attitude of “doing business big, or not doing it at all”. Photo is of Shanghai’s riverbank pedestrian street around the 1930s in the 20th century. AFP

1927 March 29, the Nationalist government set up the Shanghai Special City (new municipality) outside the foreign concessions, greatly helping Shanghai’s development. Photo is of 1927, a peddler selling cigarettes to foreign soldiers. Getty/Topical Press Agency

1927 March 29, the Nationalist government set up the Shanghai Special City (new municipality) outside the foreign concessions, greatly helping Shanghai’s development. Photo is of 1927, a peddler selling cigarettes to foreign soldiers. Getty/Topical Press Agency

Photo is of Nanjing Road in the ’30s of the 20th century, both sides of the street covered with signs. Wikipedia

Photo is of Nanjing Road in the ’30s of the 20th century, both sides of the street covered with signs. Wikipedia

On Shanghai’s booming docks, cargo both large and small transferred. Photo is of dockers unloading a train locomotive engine; this engine car was provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In addition to this, the UNRRA also provided many train cars, railroad ties, and steel rails. Corbis

On Shanghai’s booming docks, cargo both large and small transferred. Photo is of dockers unloading a train locomotive engine; this engine car was provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In addition to this, the UNRRA also provided many train cars, railroad ties, and steel rails. Corbis

1930s of the 20th century, Shanghai became China’s number one metropolis. With the exception of Shanghai, the majority of China still hovered on the brink of destruction founded on a natural economy. Photo is of 1936 September 19, of Chinese laborers on the docks unloading watermelons to be sold. AP

1930s of the 20th century, Shanghai became China’s number one metropolis. With the exception of Shanghai, the majority of China still hovered on the brink of destruction founded on a natural economy. Photo is of 1936 September 19, of Chinese laborers on the docks unloading watermelons to be sold. AP

in 1843, 26 British businessmen and missionaries arrived in Shanghai, the first group of foreigners to arrive in Shanghai. By 1935, the number of British expatriates living in the Shanghai International Settlement had exceeded 6000 people. Photo is of the Shanghai Hotel in the 1930s. Corbis

In 1843, 26 British businessmen and missionaries arrived in Shanghai, the first group of foreigners to arrive in Shanghai. By 1935, the number of British expatriates living in the Shanghai International Settlement had exceeded 6000 people. Photo is of the Shanghai Hotel in the 1930s. Corbis

In the 1930s and 1940s of the 20th century, Shanghai’s advertising and media industry had already developed to a very high level, yet another piece of evidence of Shanghai’s flourishing commercial trade at the time. Photo is of the Shanghai Bund in 1935, where public buses were “invaded and taken over” by all types of advertisements. Corbis

In the 1930s and 1940s of the 20th century, Shanghai’s advertising and media industry had already developed to a very high level, yet another piece of evidence of Shanghai’s flourishing commercial trade at the time. Photo is of the Shanghai Bund in 1935, where public buses were “invaded and taken over” by all types of advertisements. Corbis

During the War of Resistance, Shanghai became Japanese occupied territory. During this time, Shanghai became a city where visas were not needed to enter, called the “Casablanca” of the East, with slight economic development. However, good things don’t last forever, and with the German request to get rid of Jews, Japan began to implement strict controls in Shanghai. Photo is of Shanghai during the War of Resistance. Getty/Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone

During the War of Resistance, Shanghai became Japanese occupied territory. During this time, Shanghai became a city where visas were not needed to enter, called the “Casablanca” of the East, with slight economic development. However, good things don’t last forever, and with the German request to get rid of Jews, Japan began to implement strict controls in Shanghai. Photo is of Shanghai during the War of Resistance. Getty/Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone

Photo is of Shanghai’s business street during the 1940s of the 20th century, where buildings, walls, and public buses were all pasted with advertisements. Photo: Alan Larson

Photo is of Shanghai’s business street during the 1940s of the 20th century, where buildings, walls, and public buses were all pasted with advertisements. Photo: Alan Larson

Photo is of 1948 January 1, a billboard on a Shanghai street. Other than physical goods, these advertisement billboards also featured advertisements for movie and stage play showings and the like. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

Photo is of 1948 January 1, a billboard on a Shanghai street. Other than physical goods, these advertisement billboards also featured advertisements for movie and stage play showings and the like. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

Photo is of 1947, a rickshaw puller, with a lot of advertisements visible on the commercial street. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Mark Kauffman

Photo is of 1947, a rickshaw puller, with a lot of advertisements visible on the commercial street. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Mark Kauffman

1947 June 1, a newsstand on the side of a Shanghai street. Other than local newspapers and periodicals, Time, Esquire, and similar periodicals were popular sellers on the streets of Shanghai. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Mark Kauffman

1947 June 1, a newsstand on the side of a Shanghai street. Other than local newspapers and periodicals, Time, Esquire, and similar periodicals were popular sellers on the streets of Shanghai. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Mark Kauffman

1945, Japan surrendered, and the Japanese occupation of Shanghai ended. However, not long after, the Chinese Civil War began, and Shanghai became a focal point that both the Nationalists and Communists fought over. For the Kuomingtang [KMT], Shanghai was it’s industrial base, whereas for the Communist Party, Shanghai was a hotbed for the labor movement. Photo is of 1946 August 1, a bird’s eye view of Shanghai. Corbis

1945, Japan surrendered, and the Japanese occupation of Shanghai ended. However, not long after, the Chinese Civil War began, and Shanghai became a focal point that both the Nationalists and Communists fought over. For the Kuomingtang [KMT], Shanghai was it’s industrial base, whereas for the Communist Party, Shanghai was a hotbed for the labor movement. Photo is of 1946 August 1, a bird’s eye view of Shanghai. Corbis

The Daxin Department Store building (now the First Department Store) after the War of Resistance victory. Photo: Alan Larson

The Daxin Department Store building (now the First Department Store) after the War of Resistance victory. Photo: Alan Larson

Photo is of the rooftop of the Shanghai Park Hotel, with American members of the Flying Tigers surveying the complete view of Shanghai. Photo: Alan Larson

Photo is of the rooftop of the Shanghai Park Hotel, with American members of the Flying Tigers surveying the complete view of Shanghai. Photo: Alan Larson

Photo is of not long after the end of the War of Resistance, of a dancing girl and a soldier dancing. There were still many foreign soldiers in the bars. Shanghai became an international city where foreigners could be seen everywhere. Corbis

Photo is of not long after the end of the War of Resistance, of a dancing girl and a soldier dancing. There were still many foreign soldiers in the bars. Shanghai became an international city where foreigners could be seen everywhere. Corbis

At the end of the 1940s in the 20th century, despite Shanghai remaining China’s number one city, the theme of Shanghai during this time was of social unrest/turmoil. Strikes, civil war, and inflation plagued the city of Shanghai. Photo is of 1947 June 18, on the street from the central business district to the Bund public markets, a flock of sheep crossing the street causes road congestion in the morning. AP

At the end of the 1940s in the 20th century, despite Shanghai remaining China’s number one city, the theme of Shanghai during this time was of social unrest/turmoil. Strikes, civil war, and inflation plagued the city of Shanghai. Photo is of 1947 June 18, on the street from the central business district to the Bund public markets, a flock of sheep crossing the street causes road congestion in the morning. AP

1948, a dragon boat race on Shanghai’s Huangpu River. Shanghai. The beginnings of Shanghai’s modern skyline already visible. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

1948, a dragon boat race on Shanghai’s Huangpu River. Shanghai. The beginnings of Shanghai’s modern skyline already visible. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

1949 May 1, at the Shanghai market bazaar, vendors selling “555″ branded pots. Soon after on May 14, Shanghai was surrounded and the Kuomingtang too started to retreat.

1949 May 1, at the Shanghai market bazaar, vendors selling “555” branded pots. Soon after on May 14, Shanghai was surrounded and the Kuomingtang too started to retreat.

1949 May 1, a Shanghai street filled with rickshaws. At this time, many businesses had already began closing their doors and moving. Getty/Popperfoto/Paul Popper

1949 May 1, a Shanghai street filled with rickshaws. At this time, many businesses had already began closing their doors and moving. Getty/Popperfoto/Paul Popper

1949 May 1, inside a bar, a photo of American bar owner Frank and his Chinese wife in their bar. This was several days before Communist Party forces reached Shanghai. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

1949 May 1, inside a bar, a photo of American bar owner Frank and his Chinese wife in their bar. This was several days before Communist Party forces reached Shanghai. Getty/Time Life Pictures/Jack Birns

Shanghai did not stop developing after it was controlled by the Communist Party, at the time, it and Beijing were kept as the only two municipalities. But for Shanghai, a period was already marked ending it’s most important chapter in history, as it welcomed yet another age/era.

Shanghai did not stop developing after it was controlled by the Communist Party, at the time, it and Beijing were kept as the only two municipalities. But for Shanghai, a period was already marked ending it’s most important chapter in history, as it welcomed yet another age/era.

Comments from NetEase:

READ  Photos Of 1932 Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, & Asia

网易重庆市手机网友 ip:183.70.*.*:

Why are the developed/flourishing places all places that have “fell into enemy hands/been captured” before? Requesting explanation.

网易浙江省衢州市手机网友 ip:123.158.*.*:

Looks more prosperous and bustling than the Shanghai before the Reform and Opening Up.

网易韩国手机网友 ip:223.62.*.*: (responding to 183.70.*.*)

Requesting explanation for why all the liberated places are impoverished…

网易美国手机网友 [nevermindnorth]:

The reason why Shanghai is the Shanghai today is because it was “colonized” [colonialism] long-term, and the reason why it is inferior to Hong Kong is because it its period of being a colony was shorter, proving that Chinese people will become excellent as long as they are in long-term contact with Western mainstream culture.

网易黑龙江省哈尔滨市手机网友 ip:218.9.*.*: (responding to above)

Mao and the Left’s hate of the West will only keep China and civilization further and further apart.

湛蓝之空 [网易广东省深圳市宝安区网友]: (also responding to 183.70.*.*)

Because a party of peasants came to govern the city, which will sooner or later show its incompetency.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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