A friend forwarded this Telegraph post with photos of the same view in Shanghai, 26 years apart. The amount the city has changed is staggering. The first time I was in Shanghai was around the same time as this first photo was taken:

Shanghai then

Then, the skyline of the city was the Bund—a low-rise boulevard of global banking and trading buildings preserved in amber from the pre-revolution era. Across the river behind some warehouses, there was nothing but duck farms and rice paddies. People still regularly wore Mao suits as street clothes, and there were almost no cars to be seen—just bicycles and the occasional bulbous, black Soviet sedans for the favored of the PRC government.

Now, that same view looks like this:

Shanghai now

In the space of less than three decades, Shanghai (and Beijing, and the rest of urban China) has transformed itself into something so hyperbolic and consumerist it’s almost unrecognizable. In just the seven years since I was there last the Pudong skyline has sprouted still more space needles, and in 2006, it was dizzying enough to try to readjust to a China I hadn’t seen since before the Hong Kong handover.

Check out some photos from my last trip through China, though I have to remind myself that much of what I documented, especially in Beijing has likely already been bulldozed in the name of development.

Zai Jian LeninPatom PlateauPatom PlateauPatom PlateauPatom PlateauApproaching Beijing
Approaching BeijingApproaching BeijingBeijing PollutionBeijing streetsMio at Pass By barPass By poster
Gerry outside Pass By BarCongee and baoziCongeeDrum towerHutong near HouhaiHutong near Houhai
Hutong near HouhaiRickshaw cartsFrozen lakes at HouhaiNowhere CateringDoor at life cafeMio at Life cafe

China 05|06, a set on Flickr.

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