The Grand Facade: A Comparative Study of Paris and Shanghai in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Dr. Gloria Tseng
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the world as a whole was facing vast social, political, and economic changes. In a case study of two international cities, Paris and Shanghai, the dramatic shifts are overwhelmingly evident. Through the use of photographs, paintings, and other media our team developed an exhibit exploring the similarities and differences of these two cities. As the cities progressed into the twentieth century it was obvious that they shared common characteristics. On the surface, both cities existed under glorious facades that masked the harsh realities beneath the surface. The prosperous Bund in Shanghai and Haussmannian Paris masked the tumultuous political landscapes and social conflicts in the cities. In Shanghai, many of the local Chinese lived in poverty scraping out a living as rickshaw pullers or prostitutes. Likewise, Paris was overwhelmed by political tensions as Frenchmen vacillated between monarchies and republics. Though seemingly different at first glance, the international crossroads of Paris and Shanghai contained unseen turmoil beneath their visage.
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