Shanghai Dreams

This profile from <em>National Geographic</em> takes an inside look at the growing and rapidly changing city of Shanghai.
February 19, 2010, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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The piece looks at how the city is making a big gamble on hosting the 2010 world exposition, and how it hopes to claim a title as one of the world's new global cities.

"Every city has a rhythm, a pulse that makes it move. In Shanghai, one of the fastest growing megacities in the world, it's easy to get lost in the relentless percussion of jackhammers and pile drivers, bulldozers and building cranes. The proliferating skyscrapers and construction sites are part of a stunning metamorphosis that Shanghai will show off as host of Expo 2010, the contemporary version of the World's Fair, which runs from May through October. The rise of China's only truly global city, however, is driven not by machines but by an urban culture that follows its own beat-embracing the new and the foreign even as it seeks to reclaim its past glory.

Shanghai natives form an urban tribe, set apart from the rest of China by language, customs, architecture, food, and attitudes. Their culture, often called haipai (Shanghai style), emerged from the city's singular history as a meeting point of foreign merchants and Chi­nese migrants. But over the years it has become a hybrid that confounds the very idea of East and West. 'In foreigners' eyes Shanghai is part of 'mysterious China,'' says Zhou Libo, a local comedian. 'In the eyes of other Chinese, Shanghai is part of the outside world.'"

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Published on Thursday, February 18, 2010 in National Gepgraphic
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