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