Walking the Shanghai (Shànghǎi, 上海) streets can give you a glimpse into the unique and layered past of this city, including foreign settlements, jazz-age decadence, political intrigue and, more recently, an entrepreneurial spirit that's returning this legendary port to the ranks of the world's great metropolises. China's economic showpiece never fails to surprise and rarely fails to delight, making it the perfect backdrop for the Shanghai Rolex Masters, held every October at Qizhong Stadium.
Discover the Art Deco architecture of the Bund and the charm of the former French Concession, take in things to do in Shanghai. Wander the streets at random or set out on an organized Shanghai tour. Discover the fascinating heart of Shanghai.
Growing from just a small fishing community in the Shanghai stepped onto the global stage in 1842 when the British, having defeated the Old City. Concessions to the French, American, and Japanese soon followed, and Shanghai's economy began to boom as foreign investment poured in.
During the 1920s and '30s, Shanghai’s new found wealth and importance attracted a disreputable mix of gangs, corrupt concession cops, fat-cat factory owners, sailors and rich expatriate families. Political intrigue ran high, as the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) struggled to maintain control. In 1922, the Chinese Communist Party held its first meeting in a French Concession lane house and continued to organize meetings until the Nationalists struck out, massacring Communists in 1927 and driving opposition underground. Despite such turmoil, Shanghai continued to thrive as one of the world's most exciting, prosperous and decadent cities.
World War II saw Japan seize control of the city in 1937 (on the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor) then from 1945, Nationalist rule returned, only to be toppled by the Communists in 1949.
During the sometimes violent tumult of the Mao years, Shanghai’s role as a global financial center was displaced by the need for industrial support for the revolution, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution with many of its inhabitants persecuted, driven away from the city or sent for “re-education.” Despite all this, the city remained a vital, though far less glamorous, economic hub throughout.
The 1990s saw Shanghai return to the world stage as the city took the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping to heart. Opening up to economic development Shanghai has helped fuel China's recent breakneck growth and has brought streams of foreigners back—for both business and pleasure—to a city that once again commands global attention.