Shaping Urban Modernity in Shanghai and Paris through the Building of Roads and Parks

Student Author(s)

Joseph Williams

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Gloria Tseng, History

Document Type


Event Date



In this paper, I argue that urban modernity is characterized by functional utility and aesthetic elements. Nineteenth-century Paris and early twentieth-century Shanghai provide strong evidence for this argument, because both cities underwent large-scale building projects in the form of roads and parks. What is striking about these two cases is that two distinct forces, the imperial government in Paris and private enterprise in Shanghai, created cities that were symbols of modernity and cosmopolitan values in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, respectively. This research examines the impact of the road and park building projects of the Shanghai International Settlement on Shanghai’s urban modernity. By juxtaposing the International Settlement’s road and park building projects with Paris’s urban renewal under Napoleon III’s Second Empire, the effects of road and park building projects on urban modernity becomes evident. The Report of the Hon. Mr. Justice Feetham to the Shanghai Municipal Council (1931), a consultative report for the Shanghai Municipal Council authored by the South African Judge Richard Feetham, is used as the main primary source for this research on Shanghai, and its contents provide valuable insights into the intricacies of the International Settlement.

This document is currently not available here.