Shanghai Photos 1993-2010

Sparked by a comment from lookingforbeauty, I thought it would be interesting, for me at least, to look at some of the photos I’ve taken in Shanghai from the early mid 1990s to the present.90s Bike Commuters HDR copy

Over the years, the balance between bikes on the road and motor vehicles has changed drastically towards the latter, although there are still plenty of bikes. This photo was taken in 1993 or so. The streets were often quite empty of cars and trucks.

90s Alley HDR

This was a typical courtyard and residential alleyway from the mid-1990s. Although many such residential areas are gone now, and the buildings and surroundings considerably more modern, there is always a little house like the green office in this photo where a low-level security guard or two keeps an eye on what’s going on.

Tai Chi Sword HDR sepia-2

Every Shanghai park, some of which you have to pay a token fee to get into, has its groups of folks in early morning doing tai chi or varieties of kung fu, fan or scarf dancing, western ballroom dancing, or even Chinese versions of disco. Here an elderly group practices tai chi sword.

My favorite to observe were the more solitary chi kung practitioners walking backward with those chiming exercise balls rotating in their hands or standing quietly in front of a tree waving their hands slowly up around the trunk.

Dancing Exercise HDR

Not in a park, but some kind of local festival required group dancing in the street. Doing a lot of things together like this used to be characteristic of Chinese culture, but increased urbanization is causing such community feelings to wane in big cities like Shanghai.

Shanghai Gentlemen HDR

I’m not sure of the occasion… perhaps just an afternoon meeting of a local retired gentlemen’s club. This was on a downtown shopping street. It’s odd, as in this photo, how advertising used, and to this day still often uses, non-oriental women’s faces.

Nearby Water Village HDR

Just outside of Shanghai are some “water villages” which remain as more traditional destinations both for domestic and foreign tourists.

Pudong Postcard

This was a postcard we picked up in perhaps 1994 proudly showing the massive overhaul of the Pudong area of Shanghai. Before 1990, this area was mostly farmland and wetlands. Then the Chinese government decided to change it into a special economic zone.

You can see how few vehicles are on this interchange. The bridge uses the same design as the earlier Alex Fraser Bridge over the Fraser River in the Lower Mainland of BC where I live.

The wind must have been blowing hard on the day this photo was shot to see blue sky like that. Mostly there is smog, and in our first trips it was rare to see the sun on a summer day. These days the situation has improved somewhat and one does see an occasional blue sky, but the smog in Shanghai and elsewhere in China is still rampant.

Chess Players HDR

Moving into the 2000s now, Chinese chess is a common scene in the parks, although not usually on such a large board. It is considerably different than the western game, more tactical, even I dare say, more exciting. And everyone can play, from grandmothers to little ones.

Street Food HDR

Street food is one of the joys of Shanghai life, which sadly too is giving way before increased urbanization. But, it can still be found if one knows where to look. Here steamed buns are being served. We’re always careful to eat either freshly steamed or deep-fried food on the street, for fear of hepatitis C and other unpleasant realities.

Skyscraper HDR

Reminding me just a little of a building from Blade Runner, this is only one of many futuristic skyscrapers in Shanghai. It looks almost like a postcard, but actually it’s a photo I shot from a treed area in central Shanghai.

Street Scene HDR

A downtown pedestrian mall, shot in the early 2000s. This shows more typical atmospheric conditions.

streetcobbler HDR

Occasionally one can still find streetside shoe cobblers, bicycle repair or similar services. As with the street food, the price for services is very reasonable. Before the advent of the ubiquitous air conditioners in every apartment, the street was the only place that offered a slight refuge from summer heat.

Yam Seller HDR

Get your hot yams here! This fellow, probably one of the millions of migrants in the city struggling to make a living, is selling yams kept warm on his drum barrel stove on a cold winter’s day. This was from a couple of trips ago in an increasingly modernized area… we haven’t seen any such merchants the last time or two near the same place.

Shangai Morning Skyline HDR

Early morning in a residential area of Shanghai — many, many highrises of apartments.

And finally, from this year’s trip, a shot of the Old Town tourist area from a restaurant window…

There’s your tour…


Explore posts in the same categories: China, Culture, Environment, Photography, Travel

10 Comments on “Shanghai Photos 1993-2010”

  1. Rick Matz Says:

    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  2. fencer Says:

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Hey Fencer,
    These are marvelous photos. Thanks so much for publishing them. In the second to last, what a beautiful sky; and in the very first and some later, too, there is a purple colour that is quite unusual. I like it!
    The yam seller would make a good painting; so would the chess players.
    Progress has its price. In Pitt Meadows, where the new Golden Ears Bridge and the Pitt River Bridge have been recently completed, the design is very like the one above – and like the Alex Fraser Bridge. I never thought of it as an international design, but why not?
    There has been some farmland isolated by the new concrete developments and there is a great fuss about taking land out of the Agricultural reserve.
    There have been many changes. Rural streets that were quiet are now filled with cars early morning and late afternoon for the two rush hour periods; and they are proposing a traffic light right in the middle of beautiful farm acreage. How horrible!
    But there are traffic accidents weekly, as people, coming off the bridges come through this area. They don’t slow down sufficiently, and in rush hour, people are impatient.
    Ah well, so they say, you can’t stop progress.

  4. fencer Says:

    Hi lookingforbeauty,

    Thanks for your instigation…

    I haven’t gone over that Golden Ears bridge, although I’ve travelled in the vicinity up Coast Meridian. It’s like the Dire Straits’ song Telegraph Road… before you know it, hordes of new people accumulate around improved roads and bridges. More and more people filling up areas with nary a thought about what it means in the long run.


  5. forestrat Says:

    Great photos. Your art skills show in the choice of subjects and compositions – not your average vacation snaps.


  6. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    Well, thanks… considering the source, I consider that high praise!

    Some of the shots, I wish I’d stepped to one side or another to get a better angle, clear a face or remove an overlap or distracting background, but usually there’s no time… it’s now or never (especially since my wife is usually with me and she gets impatient with my stopping to shoot all the time).


  7. forestrat Says:

    I know what you mean. I like to hike alone when I am taking photos. Nobody wants to sit around for half an hour watching me shoot the same waterfall from umpteen different angles. Then walk 50 feet and do it all over again.

    On the other hand street shooting is a faster paced thing. I envy people like you that can work on the fly. The “decisive moment” comes and goes and I always seem to miss it.


  8. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    You know, I can just imagine you being super-meticulous out there in the woods…

    I do get frustrated sometimes when I’m in Shanghai, not being always able to get a shot I want, but maybe there’s something in making a virtue of necessity as I trail along in the wake of my relatives…


  9. I’ve never traveled in Asia. It is still a part of the world shrouded in mystery for me despite modern global communications and what not. Thanks for giving a little first hand glipse behind the scenes.


  10. fencer Says:

    Hi Rufe,

    Thanks for coming by…

    If I hadn’t married a Chinese wife, I dare say I would be less exposed to Asia and China, too!

    Funny how life goes…


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