There is only so far the gap between the migrant workers and the local Shanghainese they serve can grow before the foundations of the city buckle — and only so many well-educated, English-speaking, computer-literate, world-traveling young people the city can welcome before they demand change. Modernity is about more than fast trains and tall buildings. Despite the authorities’ strict controls, some among Shanghai’s millions have surely figured this out. — Places Journal
In just two decades Shanghai has been transformed from "mothballed relic" of Maoism to one of the world's largest and most dynamic cities, complete with the fastest train on earth and more high-rise buildings than Manhattan.
In an excerpt on Places from the new book A History of Future Cities, Daniel Brook recounts the city's fast-forward and often ruthless reinvention — and describes what has become an enduring dilemma in Reform-era China. For all its new energy, he writes, "the new Shanghai has yet to live up to the city’s historic promise — to sort out what it means to be Chinese and modern."