Shanghai boasts a glamorous modern façade, but it is also fiercely proud of its heritage. Shanghai history can be found all over the city, especially in the older districts of Puxi.
Understanding Shanghai’s past
Shanghai’s history stretches back to the Neolithic period, over 6000 years ago. By the second century BC, people began to settle along the Huangpu River, which divides the areas of Pudong and Puxi in Shanghai. Over the next thousand years, the city slowly developed into a major world port until the time of the Ming Dynasty in 14th to 17th centuries, when its position as a major eastern city was sealed.
During the following Qing Dynasty in China, which lasted from the 17th to early 20th centuries, the city developed the Shanghai School of art, which has influenced modern Chinese painting ever since. In the 1840s, the British established a presence in Shanghai, and were later followed by the French, the Japanese and the Americans. In the 1920s and 1930s, the city saw rapid economic development, which slowed dramatically during World War II.
After the beginning of communist rule in 1949, Shanghai was closed to world influence for several decades. However, since the 1970s and especially in the 21st century, Shanghai has seen rapid development which has led to its position as one of the world’s major economic centres.
Historic attractions in Shanghai
Visit the Old City for picturesque images of Shanghai in days gone by, and explore the streets of The Bund to discover the European Art Deco-style buildings that sprung up in the 1920s and 1930s. Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Art Museum also offer fascinating insight into the history of this thrilling city.