If you are ever in Shanghai, I definitely recommend visiting some of the “Old Shanghai” neighborhoods. When you find them, it honestly feels as if you are transported to a totally different place. Each one of these lilong communities are a little different. They give off different vibes, and it is interesting how much they feel like a separate Shanghai, so different from the hustle and bustle environment of much of the rest of the city. Here are a few pictures I took at two lilong communities I visited in the past few weeks.
I wish I was able to capture more of these people living their every day lives. These alleyways were so small that it felt I was imposing if I took too many photos. I honestly wasn’t able to capture the beauty that resides within these communities very well, so I recommend ya’ll experience it first hand if ya’ll ever get the chance. I really felt that a strong sense of identity exists within each lilong and felt the bond that the residents shared with each other. People feel safe in these communities; they leave their doors and windows open and let their kids run around all over the place. There are small restaurants, convenience stores, barber shops, repair shops… These communities are basically self sufficient. As I walk through these places, I feel oddly calm and at ease. I especially enjoyed visiting these places alone because I was able to just loose myself in my thoughts as I observed my surroundings quietly.
At one point during my afternoon excursion, I walked past one of the alleyways to find this in the midst of it all. From far away, it just looked like a pile of rubble, but when I went closer I noticed that they were actually the remnants of homes. The contrast between the high rises in the distance and this pile of rubble is crazy, and a little sad. I am pretty sure the plan for this piece of land is to build up high rises just like those in the distance. I recently wrote a paper about these communities and how it is so unfortunate that they are disappearing due to the urbanization and modernization of Shanghai. They contain such vibrant histories and culture and I think they are worth preserving for the world to appreciate.