The age of the heritage industrial buildings
90% of the current heritage industrial buildings along the Huangpu River were built before 1937.
However, the number of industrial buildings constructed in the time period varies and can be attributed to different historical phases of Shanghai, whereby the city experienced major political and economic events that affected its industrial and urban development trends overall.
1840-1912: the old Shanghai
This is the time when the city transformed from an agricultural village to one of China’s principle trading ports. With Shanghai’s beginning of the industrial revolution, many of the industrial buildings started being built.
1842 Treaty of Nanking opened up Shanghai for the first time to foreign and private capital investments that set up industry all along the river
1912-1937: Shanghai in the Republic of China
More than half of the heritage industrial buildings were built in this time (90% altogether with the previous stage), while the city is growing and strengthening its industrial development.
1912 the Republic of China was established that gave way to a period of political stability that allowed Shanghai’s economy to further develop. In 1927 the government introduced The Greater Shanghai Plan and in 1929 acquired the north east area of the city along the Huangpu River.
1937-1949: War Time
Shanghai’s rapid industrial development lasted several decades until it was halted by political turmoil. Due to the war, all industrial and urban development stalled.
With the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, during the 2nd Sino-Japanese war, and then WWII until the end of 1945, Shanghai developed along with the foreign concessions and their dynamics.
1949-1978: Shanghai in Communist China
After the war, the industrial development resumed, but most of it shifted under national investment.
1949 the People’s Republic of China was established, whereby all foreign capital was expelled and the industries were nationalized. The implementation of the original Greater Shanghai Plan did not continue, giving priority to re-construction of damaged buildings and the construction of new roads.
1978-now: Contemporary Shanghai
1978 economic reform re-introduced foreign capital and investments which provided the opportunity for Shanghai to develop into a global financial and trading center. However, from this time the city economy continues to shift away from industrial city to global city development.
In 2000, the GDP produced by tertiary sector exceeded the one produced by the secondary sector for the first time. Factories were demolished and relocated away from the city. Only a selection remains as remnant of Shanghai’s rich industrial past.
A variety of building typologies