'The Amazing Race' Pit Stop Fiver: Shanghai is Massive
Friday, April 30, 2010
We're sticking with Shanghai on The Amazing Race this week, which means we're sticking with the city for the last pit stop fiver of the season. Last time we talked about noodles and Shanghai's place as home of many things modern in China, today we'll talk about buildings. Yes, I'm aware I'm indulging in my childhood interests a bit here.
Shanghai, after all, is the financial center of China, and most photos of the city are of its instantly recognizable skyline--the new one rising in the Pudong district. But its financial status isn't a recent one: it's always been that way since the end of the 19th century. Nonetheless, the city is a major one, as signified by its selection as the home of the 2010 World Expo which kicks off tomorrow.
If only to highlight the immensity of the city--Jet and Cord find it an intimidating place to navigate, after all--here's the usual five facts about those buildings. As always, I'm helped by Wikipedia and, this time, a couple of magazines I picked up over the weekend. Huge buildings, yes.
On one end of the city, the traditional. One of the more popular tourist attractions in Shanghai, the Bund served as the center of many international banks in the early 20th century. Situated along the Huangpu River, the district is home to offices of many large banks and companies. Architecture buffs may also know this place as a center of many Art Deco, Renaissance and Gothic buildings. The government has restricted the height of the buildings in the area--you can't ruin the beauty of the buildings, after all.
On the other end, the really modern. Across the Bund is the Pudong district, the very district you might've seen in the news. Situated in the eastern part of Shanghai, it was designated as a special economic zone in the 1990s and has since become home to many of the city's newer, more modern buildings, such as...
...that building with the circles. It's the Oriental Pearl Tower, which stands at 1,535 feet and serves mostly as a TV tower. Opened in 1995, it was once the tallest structure in China, until it was overtaken by...
...that building that looks like a bottle opener. It's the Shanghai World Financial Center, which stands at 1,614 feet and is home to offices, shopping malls and the world's highest hotel. Opened in 2008, it's known for having a trapezoidal hole near the top of the building, built to minimize the stresses strong winds may cause. It was supposed to be a circle, but citizens complained it reminded them too much of Japan, who occupied the area during World War II. The building is the third tallest skyscraper in the world.
Understandably, Shanghai is proud of their progress. The Expo 2010, which opens tomorrow, will be used by the Shanghai government to portray the city as the "next great world city". Again, size matters here: the Expo site is the largest in history, at 5.28 square kilometers, and at least 70 million are expected to visit--the largest attendance in history.
By the time you read this, the opening ceremonies must be finished, and you must've seen all those fireworks on TV. And you'll understand why Jet and Cord were so intimidated. Fingers crossed nobody gets lost...
(Image courtesy of Easy Tour China)