Shanghai is an international mecca of Art Deco design. This night scene features two of the city’s architectural gems—the Fairmont Peace Hotel (center) and the Bank of China (right).
I’m back in the USA for the summer. This past year, I spent another season in Shanghai—that exotic, endlessly fascinating, and ever-changing city. I’ve compiled the best of the stories and pictures I gathered about social life and travels in China in diary form, and I’ll be posting them from time to time. Here’s another:
Though Shanghai is becoming known for its flashy Lamborghinis and mirrored skyscrapers, it seduces many newcomers with its historic charms—the stately Neoclassical buildings on the Bund, the tree-lined streets of the former French Concession, the beautiful chaos of its teeming lane neighborhoods.
Shanghai’s living past beguiles some of these newcomers to remain for decades and to become passionate advocates for its study and preservation.
Among the foremost examples are Tess Johnston, Patrick Cranley, and Tina Kanagaratnam. Tess, a full-time author retired from the U.S. Foreign Service, has lived here almost continuously since the 1980s, while Patrick and Tina, who run the marketing and communications firm Asia Media, arrived in 1997.
In 1998, the trio established the Shanghai Historic House Association, now called Historic Shanghai. A loose association of mostly expatriates, it is dedicated to raising awareness of the social and architectural heritage of the city through research, publications, programs, and tours.
I refer often to guidebooks edited by Tess (Walking Tours of Shanghai and Still More Shanghai Walks) and to Tina and Patrick’s contributions to Insight Guide Shanghai.
Historic Shanghai founders Tess Johnson, Patrick Cranley, and Tina Kanagaratnam. (Photo courtesy Shanghai-Today.com)