One of the largest, most mysterious cities in the world has emerged Shanguai from a long slumber to become a major player on the global scene.
Author Laurie Werner
GARY YU RESTAURATEUR //
“There’s a great hidden Spanish restaurant called el Willy. It’s quite new, and everyone loves it already. One little thing not many people know is there’s a Japanese restaurant above it, run by the same owner. It’s very tiny, only 14 seats. I love both places because they’re a mash-up, just like new Shanghai.”
KATE LORENZ REALTOR //
“I like to hit the boutiques on Huaihai Road. My favorite are two French Colonial villas in a small garden behind the street that now contain Vacheron Constantin and Dunhill stores. And I always like to go to Lu Xun Park to watch the opera singers, particularly in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.”
HENRIETTA HO MARKETING EXECUTIVE //
“I love TMSK, a bar that’s the vision of Loretta Hui-Shan Yang, a former Taiwanese actress who has trendy boutique glassware shops in town. But the bar at TMSK is made almost entirely out of colored glass, and there’s a pool filled with floating flowers.”
GEORGE MICHELL ART GALLERY OWNER //
“A lot of people don’t know about the city’s jazz heritage, but it was really popular here in the ’20s. It stopped during the Cultural Revolution but came up again in the ’90s. Now I like to go to the Cotton Club and the JZ Club, which are restarting the tradition.”
SCRAPING BY // Shanghai’s otherworldly skyline comes at a price // By late 2010, there will be a projected 5,000 skyscrapers within Shanghai’s city limits. The buildings elicit a range of opinions. Some gape at the otherworldly shapes and technicolor lights. The most eye-catching edifice is the 1,535-foot Oriental Pearl TV Tower, shaped like a rocket ship that’s skewered giant bowling balls. The tallest building in the city is the high-tech Shanghai World Financial Center, a 101-floor goliath with a rectangle cut from the top that makes it look like a bottle opener.
Others aren’t as thrilled. Miles of historic 19th century homes known as shikumen— rowhouses adorned with stone gates and lush courtyards—were torn down in the 1990s to make way for new projects. To visit the last remaining shikumen, wander the streets of the French Concession. But hurry: Development continues next door on the Shanghai Tower. When it opens in 2014, it’ll be the world’s second-tallest building.
WE MEAN YOU NO HARM // From Barbie to Bambi, American culture lands in Shanghai // This is a city rich with cultural tradition, but not so rich that it doesn’t enjoy importing some from the West. Take the world’s only Barbie store, a 35,000-squarefoot behemoth, which opened last March stocked with thousands upon thousands of Barbie- and human-size products. The six-floor playhouse comprises a spa, a chocolate shop and a pink escalator enclosed in a pink tunnel with glowing pink neon lights and speakers blasting a continuous soundtrack of giggling girls. If that sounds like overload, it would be wise to wait for the arrival of the ultimate symbol of Western culture—Disneyland, whose carnival of roller coasters, funnel cakes and adults dressed up as cartoon characters opens in 2014.