Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change

China embarked on a policy of economic reform and opening up to the outside world 40 years ago, ushering in a dramatic new era of change that touched every aspect of our life.

China embarked on a policy of economic reform and opening up to the outside world 40 years ago, ushering in a dramatic new era of change that touched every aspect of our life. To mark the 40th anniversary, Shanghai Daily photographers have taken a closer look at the evolution of the city in the past four decades. Special thanks to the photography magazine Shanghai Pictorial, which contributed the photos from the 1980s and 1990s.

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

Pudong was a barren land of business in 1990. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

 The Oriental TV Station was under construction in 1993. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Zhang Suoqing / SHINE

Parachutists jump from the top of the Jin Mao Tower in 1998 during the opening ceremony of the city’s tallest building at that time. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Zhang Suoqing / SHINE

Shanghai World Financial Center surpasses Jin Mao Tower to be the tallest building in Shanghai in 2008.

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Today, Pudong has become one of the leading financial centers in Asia. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

Past: Old mail boxes on the ground floor of a residential building in 1993 when writing letters was still a major form of long-distance communication.

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Present: A woman walks past some delivery service lockers. While there are fewer letters being posted in the Internet era, the delivery industry is expected to snatch a revenue of 800 billion yuan (US$117.6 billion) in 2020 as a result of the booming online shopping. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

Past: Music lovers queue for Sunday concert tickets in 1985. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Present: Citizens enjoy an outdoor concert under the golden ginkgo trees at People’s Square in front of the Shanghai Musical Hall. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

Past: Hundreds of people practise English at the English corner in the People’s Park in 1984. The weekend activity began in 1978 when more young people wanted to learn about the Western world. It still goes on today in the park. However, most of participants are elder people. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Jiang Xiaowei

Present: A foreign student practises prior to a Chinese poem reciting competition at Fudan University. More and more foreigners are learning about Chinese culture and its language today. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Shanghai Pictorial

Past: A girl learns to type in an extracurricular class in 1987. 

Shadows shift in Shanghai's wind of change
Imaginechina

Present: Two boys program a robot on a laptop at a training school in Hangzhou. Programming is a popular new course among school children and their parents in big cities. 

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