A few days ago, Foreign Policy posted this slideshow of images from Shanghai in the 20s and 30s.
My father was born in Harbin, China, in 1923, to Jewish parents who left Russia when the borders were opened. In the 20s, Harbin was practically a Russian colony. My grandparents ended up in Shanghai in the late 30s, pushed south by invading Japanese. My father had plans to come to Berkeley, to the University, but was thwarted when war reached Shanghai. During the war, he worked for the North China Daily news; one day he was in the Jewish club with friends when American pilots walked in. The pilots said they had heard they could get a beer at the club. That was, my father told me, how he found out the war was over.
After war, after famine, after the Cultural Revolution, after becoming a Special Economic Zone in 1984. And now, in the middle of China’s rise, National Geographic gives us the comparison: Shanghai today.
And Shutterstock gives us this look: