July 03 2013

Shanghai’s Yongkang Lu: Gentrification and Tension

Strolling down a quaint street on a bright, spring afternoon, passing an international array of bakeries, small bars and cafes, you might think you had been transported to a quiet Parisian street. Instead, Yongkang Lu, located in Shanghai, is a street that seems to have changed overnight from a typical Shanghainese street into a European block. Only a few years ago, this was just another street in the Former French Concession district of Shanghai, home to a produce market and small family operated clothing boutiques and corner stores.

Yongkang Lu

In the past few years, however, the street has transformed into a popular destination for the city’s young expats looking to unwind after work. Any night of the week, you’re likely to find a young, international crowd enjoying happy hour at the many bars and spilling out onto the street.

This old neighbourhood is a 2-3 story residential area with small businesses, shops and restaurants on the ground floors and homes above. Before the 1940s, it was called la Route Remi, after a French businessman who worked in the area.

Yongkang Lu

Recently, gentrification has resulted in new, foreign owned businesses moving to the area to accommodate the growing expat community in the city. As such, many of the long-term residents are still living directly above this entertainment street. This has resulted in much tension between the residents and the young, mostly foreign, people who party below.

After a year of complaints from residents about noise and disruption, the city now requires the businesses to close by 10 p.m. While many businesses do try to keep noise levels to a minimum, many residents are simply fed up with the noise and have taken to dumping water on partygoers when the noise becomes too much.

How can Shanghai accommodate such rapid change? What else should be done to maintain a positive neighbor/patron relationship?

Credits: Images by Sophie Plottel. Data linked to source.

Sophie Plottel

Sophie Plottel, a former GSP blogger, is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a minor concentration in Global Development Studies. A native of Vancouver, Canada, she is interested in the continuing efforts of cities to adapt their policies and development strategies in response to climate change. Currently pursuing a master's of science in planning at the University of Toronto, she is studying the policies of sustainable urban development in emerging cities. After living in Shanghai, China for a year, she has became actively involved in Shanghai’s emerging environmental movement and enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant and diverse streetscape.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 at 9:57 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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