While the city's regional approach is the envy of many American planners, Shanghai is also guilty of top-down planning that may end up encouraging sprawl.
"When Americans look to rebuild their cities, they often look for guidance to a couple of North American models, such as Portland or Toronto, and at European cities. But there is something to learn from Asian cities.
For example, could a relatively small city such as Hartford, with a population of 120,000, learn something from a mega-city such as of Shanghai, population 17 million?
"When Shanghai built a magnetic-levitation commuter train - the world's fastest and only commercially operating maglev train - from Pudong International Airport to the center city, a distance of more than 19 miles, the project was made easier by being within the same jurisdiction. In Hartford, a shorter 13-mile trip from Bradley Airport would traverse three or four jurisdictions, depending on the route.
Without a regional government structure and capacity, Hartford cannot do what Shanghai is capable of doing in terms of balancing planning, services and resources on a regional scale. Yet Hartford may have a lesson for Shanghai.
Shanghai's regional planning is top-down. It could, if planners aren't extremely careful, trigger the kind of suburbanization and even sprawl that characterize much of the American metropolitan experience. Recent collective protests against the extension of the maglev train through the city to the old airport do not bode well for Shanghai's top-down approach."