The Oriental Pearl Tower is undoubtedly Shanghai’s most iconic landmark. Completed in 1994, it was also one of the first structures to be built on the Pudong side of Shanghai (ie- all the famous skyline images you see).
It has a love/hate relationship with most Shanghainese, and I certainly don’t know why exactly that certain color was picked, but at night it is spectacular. At 468m tall, it is currently the 5th largest tower in the world, with which you get some insane views of Lujiazui (downtown Pudong) and across the river of the Bund and the Puxi side of Shanghai…
I can’t recommend visiting the Pearl Tower enough, if for one simple reason: the view straight down through the glass floors at almost 300m up!
There is also an unusual exhibition located on the ground floor, as seen in the last few images… make sure to look through them all, there are some real gems in there!
HAPPY 12/12/12 !!!
The name of this recently opened park now eludes me (and my googling has turned up nothing)… either way, it is located on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River, opposite the old World Expo site.
The Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, was the second tallest building in the world (492m) at its completion back in 2007. It remains the tallest structure in mainland China, although not for long as you can see the construction of the funky Shanghai Tower taking place right next to it, which will reach a height of around 632m, making it the second tallest building in the world.
I know this story may be old news to some and I have told it many times over the years, but the aperture at the top of the SWFC (which makes it look like a bottle opener) was originally designed to be a circle (in Chinese mythology, earth is represented as a square and the sky as a circle), but since the the building developers (Mori Building Company) is Japanese, many Chinese (including the Mayor of Shanghai) took this as a slap in the face and protested that the design be changed. It seems that the love the Chinese feel for the Japanese is so strong that everywhere a Chinese person sees a circle they think of the flag of Land of the Rising Sun.
The walkway that makes up the top part of the aperture is home to the worlds highest observation deck, with some glass panes in the floor to really make your legs turn to rubber. I am certainly not afraid of heights or walking on this glass but it was quite the spectacle observing the Chinese jump away in terror as soon as they realized they were walking on see-through glass almost half a kilometer up in the sky.
You get amazing views of downtown Lujiazui as well as the Bund on the Puxi side of Shanghai across the river. Breathtaking stuff.
Rumors still swirl that a spire will be added on top of the SWFC (which cost: $1.2b) to make it architecturally taller than Taipei 101 (cost: $1.8b) and One World Trade Center in New York (cost: $3.8b), but I do not believe these to be true (rather thankfully, because I think that is cheating!). Although “taller,” One World Trade Center’s top floor is almost 20% (100m) lower than that of the SWFC.
Visiting the observatory (plus 2 other floors) costs something like 120RMB, more information on their snazzy official site.
So I finally got my first taste of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, which opened back on May 1, and runs until the end of October. Took a weekday night ticket, in the rain, and there were still massive crowds (June 24th: 447,100 visitors)… I can only imagine what it’s like on a sunny weekend.
“Better City, Better Life” is the motto, and the site itself is MASSIVE (interactive map). This first trip was only through [part of] Zone C which houses most of the European Pavilions as well as Canada, US, and Africa. And to say the Expo has transformed Shanghai city life is quite the understatement:
- 41 billion US dollars were spent on preparations (more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics);
- 18,000 families & 270 factories were relocated;
- 190+ nations and 50+ world organizations taking part (largest ever);
- Expo site covers 5.28 km², also the largest in Expo history (which equals about 987 football fields including endzones);
- 10,000+ new Shanghai taxis;
- 6 new metro lines;
- 1.7 million volunteers were trained specifically for Expo help;
- 70-100 million visitors are expected to pass through the gates;
- metal detectors (nuisance!) in every subway station throughout Shanghai;
The image above (UK Pavilion) is just a taste of the CRAZYNESS that is to come, I took 397 images and am still working through them, so check back soon as I will be updating them below!
In my twenty-something years, I’ve hit up twenty-something different countries, and without a doubt Shanghai is the night city of night cities [so far]. I don’t mean that in the sense of things being open (NYC gets that one, minus that stupid curfew), or in regards to nightlife (although no complaints here!), but that the lights are blindly turned on and are in essence: blinding, and furthermore, the crowds disappear (which is a huge plus!).
Let me put it this way: Shanghai by day = *meh*. Shanghai by night: *BLAHM*!
This set of images is from 3 seperate shoots, the first 3 images are around my office building at the end of Huai Hai Road East. The following 3 images are of my quick trip to Pudong to pick up a package sent from the homefront (thanks Mom, there is nothing in the world like Belgian D&L mayonnaise!), while the final 6 were actually taken right after the previous post, at Peoples Square.
Compare image #2 above with the one below… same location 6 months earlier:
And from 4 months earlier [see my full post on the graffiti wall]:
March 2010… after over a 1 year of being closed, Shanghai’s most famous landmark reopened to the public; so is the tale of The Bund.
While “The Bund” usually refers to the buildings located along Zhongshan Road (and facing Pudong), my photography on the other hand, does not.
The Bund is an amazing strip of structures from the [earlier] glory days when Shanghai was a huge financial and shipping hub (sound familiar!?!). Consisting of a custom house, trading houses, and banks, which subsequently moved elsewhere after the Communist victory during the Chinese Civil War in the 1950′s. The original institutions however, were given the opportunity during the 1980-90′s (with the thawing of the governments’ economic policy) to have the orignal buildings returned to their orignal uses. It is truly an amazing strip of architecture, ranging from Gothic and Baroque, to Neo-Classical and Art Deco.
My walk originated from People’s Square through the hair-care area of Shanghai (every shop sells everything related to hair salons, from scissors to those rotating lights), along the Bund, and back down Suzhou Creek.
Also note, the two cars pictures are the BMW M3, and the Rolls Royce Phantom Coupé. The Phantom is availible in 44,000 colors, which begs the question: is the owner color blind? It costs about US$400,000, which is doubled in China due to the 100% luxury tax… ooh yeah, believe it.
Which also reminds me… I’ve heard rumours there’s a Veyron floating around Shanghai.
Chinese New Year – Shanghai Warfare:
I was almost part of the image above… standing where that guy is standing (just to the right) about 40 seconds prior to this shot. There was also a group of roughly a dozen people behind that parked car (to the left), luckily no one was seriously injured.
Well anyway, I will keep this short, as you’re eyes have probably already wondered to the thumbnails below.
The Chinese know how to celebrate New Years… one week of intensely beautiful and brutal warfare. Also probably explains why I haven’t seen a pigeon in months.
Video I took around the time I captured images #20-21 above
And here is a video of Shanghai at midnight on Day 1 (not by me, as I left my point-n-shoot in the back of a taxi that night, RIP) that shows the scope of the mayhem that is Chinese New Year, (check it out!).
Oh, and by the way, all these photos (+ my video) were taken a block away from each other and on night 5!
For Christmas Day, a friend and I headed down to the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market (and had some street dumplings right out side)… and I kind of wish I had known about this before. Just think, having custom-tailored suits, coats, and shirts at a fraction of the price as the pre-made mass-produced and over-priced articles you find in shops (they even have official Boss, Armani, etc catalogs for “help” with your design). You just got to know how to bargain, which I can’t say I’m too good at, but I think we got a decent deal on our “kungfu-style” shirts (I refer to it as my “Chinese pimp shirt“), for 160RMB each. After walking around the market (it’s 3 full floors inside a building on 399 Lujiabang Road) and doing some research, typically suits go for 400-600RMB and dress shirts around 100RMB… all of course depending on size, material, and quantity you are buying.
After the Fabric Market, we followed a tip of a nice (and free) view of the infamous Pudong skyline, located on the roof bar/restaurant of the Captain’s Hostel located just off the Bund (which has been closed entirely for renovations since I arrived here). [sorry, those pics will have to wait another day or two]