It’s amazing how international Shanghai has been throughout history. Sometimes, walking about the city, it’s easy to almost feel like you’re experiencing a “fake” version of China with as many foreign: stores, food, shops—there are. However, for almost a hundred years, from 1843 to 1941 (then again starting in 1990s) Shanghai was a bustling business city rich with international influence. Today you can still see the impact of international and national architects, residents, and businesses alike, during this time.
The various Six Shanghai Walks books are a great way to dive into this part of Shanghai’s history. Each walk illuminates a specific portion & time-period of Shanghai, it’s architecture and the history surrounding it. The research that went into each of these is obvious and it’s recommended that you read through the walk before actually completing it, so that while you’re walking you can spend more time enjoying the sights than having your nose in a book.
Each walk takes 2-3 hours to complete and comes with a map, detailed step-by-step instructions and location markers, suggested rest locations or coffee breaks, and photos. The various authors do a great job of explaining the many aspects of the walks in every-day terms (explaining architecture and the like) and even throw in their own senses of humor here and there—making the information interesting and enjoyable to read. You’ll truly be amazed at how much you learn about Shanghai—and how much you never noticed before—after completing just one Shanghai Walk. You’ll also find out about some “local secrets” and be told about things you should look for, or try to see, that you’d never have known were there otherwise.
Whether you’re a tourist looking for a way to take exploring into your own hands, a “local” who wants to dive deeper into what makes Shanghai Shanghai, or an enthusiast who just wants to read more about this crazy city—these books are for you! This is one “guide book” that I’ll be taking with me even when I leave Shanghai.
Currently there are three Shanghai Walks books available:
- The Streets of Changing Fortune: Six Shanghai Walks | View on Amazon
- Six More Shanghai Walks: Patterns of the Past
- Still More Shanghai Walks: Shanghailanders and Shanghainese, Where they Lived, Worked & Played
The first book can be found on Amazon. The others are usually available in any Shanghai bookstore which carries foreign language books. Or you can head to the blog of contributing author Tess Johnston at: tessinshanghai.com.
Below find some photos from a recent walk I did while my parents are in town. It still boggles my mind how much amazing old architecture is in such a compact location. From the “Behind the Bund” walk from Six Shanghai Walks.