Shanghai (1927-1937) / Changes to everyday life of the public

As what has been discussed in the post of the civic center, the Republican government was trying to gain the trust of the public through urban construction and the modernized life came along. Generally speaking, the government had a progressive attitude in constructing modern infrastructure which they supposed would lead to an essential change in people’s life style. Both large-scale construction and individual projects was carried out to achieve this goal. For an example, the width of road-network was designed for car to replace the original roads that could be only travelled on foot.[1] The government also launched actions to demolish dangerous illegal construction, renovate infrastructure such as bridge and market in poor condition and build schools[2]. But when looking into more specific social groups, it can be found that the change in life is very different to each of them.

 

Local residents were affected most. Their land was expropriated in a compulsory way. Though several appeals were made on the compensation, the government refused to make any changes. And at that time, even those who were willing to sell their land to the government couldn’t get paid in time and in full amount due to the economic difficulty of the government[3]. The indigenous people had a hard time to get relocated and set up their living again.

 

Not only the lower class in land acquisition area, those in the old districts was facing the threat of being homeless as the government demolished more than 1800 single-storey buildings and more than 1700 multi-storey buildings due to safety and hygiene reason[4]. Though the government built social housing of about an hundred units along Xuejiaan Road to house those once lived in the temporary shelters in 1929, the supply was far from enough[5]. From 1930 to 1931, the second and third social housing project was done in similar scale to the first one[6]. The government was well aware of the large demand from the poor people but they still held the hope that private leasing can cooperatively help to improve the situation gradually[7]. Unfortunately it never happens[8]. The life of the public got even worse after the Japanese invader’s attack in 1933. Most of the buildings in Zhabei area were destroyed but the government even focused on the construction of civic center more with tighter budget[9].

Social housing was built but the housing provided was far from enough. From: Shanghai Library Archive, http://211.144.107.196/oldpic/node/17393
Social housing was built but the housing provided was far from enough. From: Shanghai Library Archive, http://211.144.107.196/oldpic/node/17393

If the lower class didn’t have much choice on their life, the civil servants were put in a dilemma then. The government built several dormitories and a villa community by 1933 to house their staffs[10]. But as mentioned in the post of the failure of the Greater Shanghai Plan, no supporting facilities such as shops and hospital was built to the level of the old towns. Most of the staff still preferred to live in the old town. Travelling between home and workplace was very time-consuming and inconvenient[11].

Dormitory was provided to the civil servants but they still preferred the more convenient life in the old towns. 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.
Dormitory was provided to the civil servants but they still preferred the more convenient life in the old towns. 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.

Besides solid construction, the Republican Government also initiated a “New Life Movement” to spread modern ideas and lifestyle. The collective wedding might be the most representative issue in this movement. Young couple would join collective wedding held in the government hall witnessed by the mayor. The government held this very simple wedding to show its determination to break up with the “cumbersome and lavish” tradition[12] 

Collective wedding in 1935. From: http://tuku.news.china.com/history/html/2006-10-20/2405299_314623648.htm#pic
Collective wedding in 1935. From: http://tuku.news.china.com/history/html/2006-10-20/2405299_314623648.htm#pic

In addition to the issued mentioned above, the government published a plan for the municipal and welfare issues to modernize the public in 1930[13]. But unfortunately the government didn’t manage to bring about the prosperous modern life to the citizen as expected. Lower class was exploited and relocated to a less advantaged location under the threat of war while middle class was not provided the infrastructure necessary for a convenient modern life. But admittedly the Greater Shanghai Plan largely improved the transportation system and helped to civilize the citizen in many aspects such as hygiene and education to a certain level[14].

 

Endnotes:

[1] Shanghai Special City Works Bureau, 上海特别市工务局 Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Er Qi Di San Qi Liang Qi He Kan<上海特别市工务局业务报告第二期、第三期两期合刊>, (Shanghai, 1929), 54-56; Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Si Qi Di Wu Qi Liang Qi He Kan 上海特别市工务局业务报告第四、五两期合刊, (Shanghai, 1933), 16-1­­­8

[2] Shanghai Special City Works Bureau,上海特别市工务局 Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Er Qi Di San Qi Liang Qi He Kan<上海特别市工务局业务报告第二期、第三期两期合刊>, 161-168; Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Si Qi Di Wu Qi Liang Qi He Kan 上海特别市工务局业务报告第四、五两期合刊, 80-86.

[3] 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),170-175

[4] Shanghai Special City Works Bureau,上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao (Min Guo Shi Liu Nian Qi Yue Zhi Shi Yi Yue)上海特别市工务局业务报告(民国十六年七月至十一月), (Shanghai, 1929), 185 .

[5] “Shi Zheng Yu Jiu Ji Shi Ye市政与救济事业”, Shi Zheng Qi Kan市政期刊 01(1930): 12

[6] 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), 54

[7] “Shi Zheng Yu Jiu Ji Shi Ye市政与救济事业”, 13

[8] Y. L. Lee, Better Housing for Shanghai Worker, (The Far Eastern Review, 1936), page 139—141

[9] 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, 210.

[10] “Shi Zheng Fu Xin Wu Jian Lue Shuo Ming市政府新屋简略说明”, Shen Bao 申报, October 10th, 1933, 3

[11] Wang Guoxian王国贤, Guan Yu Qing Shi Fu Jiang Fan Rong Nan Shi Yi Tuo Zhan Ben Shi Zhong Xin Qu Jian Di Ren Kou Mi Ji Cheng Du Zuo Wei Shi Shi Da Shanghai Ji Hua Zhi Chu Bu De Ti An (No. 235)关于请市府将繁荣南市以拓展本市中心区减低人口密集程度作为实施大上海计划之初步的提案(提字第二百卅五号), (Shanghai, 1933), 1

[12] Zheng Zuan 郑祖安. Shanghai Jian Ying海上剪影. (Shanghai, Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House 上海辞书出版社, 2001), 175-180

[13] “Shi Zheng Yu Jiu Ji Shi Ye市政与救济事业”, 13

[14] 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, 202.

 

Bibliography

  1. Shanghai Special City Works Bureau, 上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Er Qi Di San Qi Liang Qi He Kan<上海特别市工务局业务报告第二期、第三期两期合刊>, Shanghai, 1929.
  2. Shanghai Special City Works Bureau, 上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Si Qi Di Wu Qi Liang Qi He Kan 上海特别市工务局业务报告第四、五两期合刊, Shanghai, 1933.
  3. Shanghai Special City Works Bureau,上海特别市工务局, Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao (Min Guo Shi Liu Nian Qi Yue Zhi Shi Yi Yue)上海特别市工务局业务报告(民国十六年七月至十一月), Shanghai, 1929.
  4. 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.
  5. “Shi Zheng Fu Xin Wu Jian Lue Shuo Ming市政府新屋简略说明”, Shen Bao 申报, October 10th, 1933.
  6. “Shi Zheng Yu Jiu Ji Shi Ye市政与救济事业”, Shi Zheng Qi Kan市政期刊 01(1930): 12
  7. Wang Guoxian王国贤, Guan Yu Qing Shi Fu Jiang Fan Rong Nan Shi Yi Tuo Zhan Ben Shi Zhong Xin Qu Jian Di Ren Kou Mi Ji Cheng Du Zuo Wei Shi Shi Da Shanghai Ji Hua Zhi Chu Bu De Ti An (No. 235)关于请市府将繁荣南市以拓展本市中心区减低人口密集程度作为实施大上海计划之初步的提案(提字第二百卅五号), Shanghai, 1933.
  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, Southeast University Press 东南大学出版社, 1995.
  9. L. Lee, Better Housing for Shanghai Worker, The Far Eastern Review, 1936.
  10. Zheng Zuan 郑祖安. Shanghai Jian Ying海上剪影. Shanghai, Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House 上海辞书出版社, 2001.

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