A look back at how Shang­hai res­i­dents dealt with un­bear­able heat dur­ing an era when air con­di­tion­ers were not yet com­mon

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

who could not af­ford to do so, they re­sorted to find­ing a spot in the shade and passed time by ex­chang­ing ghost sto­ries, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal news­pa­pers back then.

The heat had also made the nightlife scene in Shang­hai’s iconic shiku­mens, or lane houses, more vi­brant. Right af­ter the sun had set, res­i­dents would pour out of their stuffy homes and oc­cupy a spot in the open where it was rel­a­tively cooler.

The sound of chop­sticks hit­ting bowls would fill the air as fam­i­lies ex­changed food among one an­other. This was fol­lowed by the chat­ter­ing noise of mahjong tiles as res­i­dents en­ter­tained them­selves through the nights which were too hot for a rest­ful sleep.

The shiku­mens were also turned into wa­ter parks as the lanes were filled with shower basins that chil­dren cheer­fully splashed around in.

But it wasn’t all fun and games dur­ing this pe­riod. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties said that 123 peo­ple in the in­ter­na­tional con­ces­sion suf­fered from heat­stroke and had to be picked up by am­bu­lances in July. The soar­ing tem­per­a­tures had also claimed the lives of 52 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four for­eign­ers, in this par­tic­u­lar area, and this sub­se­quently meant that the fu­neral par­lors across Shang­hai be­came one of the most thriv­ing busi­nesses around.


The heat of sum­mer has made the scenes in Shang­hai’s iconic shiku­mens, or lane houses, more vi­brant. Peo­ple dine, rest and so­cial­ize in the public ar­eas to avoid the heat trapped in­side their homes.

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