Shanghai (1927-1937) / Failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan

As mentioned in the analysis on the political environment of the Greater Shanghai Plan, the relatively stable period was far from enough for the plan’s full implementation. The Incident of January 29th badly obstructed the construction process and since the Incident of August 13th the construction was almost put into stagnation[1]. The war between China and Japan and the following domestic war made it financially and politically impossible to continue the plan. According to the local newspaper, in part of the Zhabei district and Jiangwan County, 80-90% of the buildings was burned down or bombed out[2]. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the Greater Shanghai Plan aiming to ‘defeat’ the concession by building up an new center doesn’t fit with the political and social environment anymore. So the overall plan failed though the construction of infrastructure and public building in the civic center reached a certain level of completion by 1937.

Japanese's invasion is one of the two major external contributor to the failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan. From: Shanghai Special City Works Bureau,上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Shi Gong Wu Ju Zhi Shi Nian上海市工务局之十年, Shanghai, 1937.
Japanese’s invasion is one of the two major external contributor to the failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan.
From: Shanghai Special City Works Bureau,上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Shi Gong Wu Ju Zhi Shi Nian上海市工务局之十年, Shanghai, 1937.

Apart from the detriment brought by the war, the economical difficulty faced by the Republican government was another crucial contributor to the failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan. Facing the great amount of investment in need, the Nanking Republican Government gave no financial support but instead collect 50% of its income from Shanghai’s revenue[3]. Therefore, the urban construction of Shanghai highly relied on municipal loan[4]. By 1936, the government was already in a debt of 6 million so to continue the plan was generally impossible[5].

 

Besides these two external contributors, the ideological contradiction behind this plan is another significant factor to its failure. On the one hand, the Republican government was eager to adapt prototypes of the western world to Shanghai in order to establish a highly modernized and prosperous city in a relatively short time. Meanwhile the original urban fabric was neglected. On the other hand, the government was also trying to erect Chinese identity by applying Chinese symbols in architectures to distinguish the Chinese part of Shanghai with the concession[6]. With a strong will to achieve the revival of nationhood, this plan lost the social and cultural support after China gained independence and got concession back as a winning nation in the Second World War. The attempt to exclude and defeat the concession in urban modernization suddenly reached its terminal and the focus of government was transferred to how to integrate the concession and the Chinese town for the development of a new united Shanghai[7].

 

Looking into the content of the plan, it can be seen that, apart from the historic restrictiveness concerning the nationalistic idea, the planning itself was problematic in the sense of real practice. Lots of the decision was made out of political consideration and commerce, factory and modernized transportation system such as new port and railway was not substantially developed[8]. Emphasizing on its symbolic function, the government mainly focus on the construction of the grand new civic center. The surrounding urban fabric was too poorly developed to support the functioning of the new center. Because of this, the renovation of old town and reconstruction of the areas attacked by war was put aside under the tight budget[9]. At the same time, decision-making was sometimes inconstant and consequently large amount of money was wasted especially in the case of the No.1 Park of Shanghai. The park was demolished only a month after its completion for the construction of the new stadium[10].

 

 

Endnotes

[1] Shanghai City Archives 上海市档案馆, Ri Ben Di Guo Zhu Yi Qing Lue Shanghai Zui Xing Shi Liao Hui Bian (volume 1)日本帝国主义侵略上海罪行史料汇编(上编), (Shanghai People’s Publishing House 上海人民出版社, 1997), 29.

[2] “Jie Shou Zha Bei Sheng Zhong 接受闸北声中”, Shen Bao 申报, May 23rd, 1932, 1

[3] Pei Fei & Wei Muting 裴斐、韦慕庭, Cong Shanghai Shi Zhang Dao Tai Wan Sheng Zhu Xi- Wu Guozhen Kou Shu (1946-1953) “从上海市长到台湾省主席”——吴国桢口述(1946—1953年), (Shanghai People’s Publishing House 上海人民出版社,1999)

[4] Guo Qizheng 郭奇正, “Pao Mo Hua Le De Xin Guo Zu Zhao Huan– Da Shanghai Ji Hua Yu 1927-1937 Nian Jian De Du Shi Zheng Zhi 泡沫化了的新国族召唤一大上海计画与1927—1937年问的都市政治”, Journal of Geographical Science 地理学报 29 (2001): 59

[5] An Keqiang 安克强, 1926-1937 Nian De Shanghai– Shi Zheng Quan, Di Fang Xing He Xian Dai Hua 1927年一1937年的上海一市政权、地方性和现代化, (Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House 上海古籍出版社, 2004), 112

[6] Wei Shu魏枢, <The Greater Shanghai Plan> Qi Shi Lu—Jin Dai Shanghai Hua Jie Du Shi Zhong Xin Kong Jian Xing Tai De Liu Bian《大上海计划》启示录——近代上海华界都市中心空间形态的流变, (Southeast University Press 东南大学出版社, 1995), 55

[7] Yu Shien 俞世恩. “1929 Nian Da Shanghai Ji Hua De Te Dian Ji Qi Shi Bai Yuan Yin Chu Tan 1929 年 “大上海计划” 的特点及其失败原因初探”, Li Shi Jiao Xue Wen Ti 历史教学问题 003 (2014): 116-120.

[8] Wei Shu魏枢, <The Greater Shanghai Plan> Qi Shi Lu—Jin Dai Shanghai Hua Jie Du Shi Zhong Xin Kong Jian Xing Tai De Liu Bian《大上海计划》启示录——近代上海华界都市中心空间形态的流变, 149.

[9] An Keqiang 安克强, 1926-1937 Nian De Shanghai– Shi Zheng Quan, Di Fang Xing He Xian Dai Hua 1927年一1937年的上海一市政权、地方性和现代化, 132.

[10] Shanghai Shi Zhongxin Quyu Jianshe Weiyuanhui 上海市市中心区域建设委员会, She Li Gong Yuan Bing Fu She Yun Dong Chang Juan 设立公园并附设运动场卷,(Shanghai, 1932)

 

 

 

Bibliography

  1. An Keqiang 安克强, 1926-1937 Nian De Shanghai– Shi Zheng Quan, Di Fang Xing He Xian Dai Hua 1927年一1937年的上海一市政权、地方性和现代化, Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House 上海古籍出版社, 2004.
  2. Guo Qizheng 郭奇正, “Pao Mo Hua Le De Xin Guo Zu Zhao Huan– Da Shanghai Ji Hua Yu 1927-1937 Nian Jian De Du Shi Zheng Zhi 泡沫化了的新国族召唤一大上海计画与1927—1937年问的都市政治”, Journal of Geographical Science 地理学报 29 (2001): 27-65
  3. “Jie Shou Zha Bei Sheng Zhong 接受闸北声中”, Shen Bao 申报, May 23rd, 1932.
  4. Pei Fei & Wei Muting 裴斐、韦慕庭, Cong Shanghai Shi Zhang Dao Tai Wan Sheng Zhu Xi– Wu Guozhen Kou Shu (1946-1953) “从上海市长到台湾省主席”——吴国桢口述(1946—1953年), Shanghai People’s Publishing House 上海人民出版社,1999.
  5. Shanghai City Archives 上海市档案馆, Ri Ben Di Guo Zhu Yi Qing Lue Shanghai Zui Xing Shi Liao Hui Bian (volume 1)日本帝国主义侵略上海罪行史料汇编(上编), Shanghai People’s Publishing House 上海人民出版社, 1997
  6. Shanghai Shi Zhongxin Quyu Jianshe Weiyuanhui 上海市市中心区域建设委员会, She Li Gong Yuan Bing Fu She Yun Dong Chang Juan 设立公园并附设运动场卷,Shanghai, 1932.
  7. Wei Shu魏枢, <The Greater Shanghai Plan> Qi Shi Lu—Jin Dai Shanghai Hua Jie Du Shi Zhong Xin Kong Jian Xing Tai De Liu Bian《大上海计划》启示录——近代上海华界都市中心空间形态的流变, Southeast University Press 东南大学出版社, 1995.
  8. Yu Shien 俞世恩. “1929 Nian Da Shanghai Ji Hua De Te Dian Ji Qi Shi Bai Yuan Yin Chu Tan 1929 年 “大上海计划” 的特点及其失败原因初探”, Li Shi Jiao Xue Wen Ti 历史教学问题 003 (2014): 116-120.

1 Comment on “Shanghai (1927-1937) / Failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan

  1. Despite its failure due to the internal and external reasons, the Greater Shanghai Plan can still be an important urban planning strategy in modern history of China, for its attempt to transform an ordinary city to a modern metropolis through those western urban planning ideas. As is mentioned in the previous post discussion the political background of the Great Shanghai Plan, a laissez-faire mode of urban development of Shanghai at that time put the city on a choke point. Therefore a plan with the control of strong political power may be a choice to push the urban development further. Now the failure experience of the urban planning, especially those internal factors, can be good lessons for architects and urban planners to think about city, power and place spirit. Moreover, the project itself, despite its failure and demolition, can still be recognized as a pioneer and foot stone of the modern Shanghai.

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