A TIMELINE OF SHANGHAI’S SUMMERS
– The completion of the Yangshupu Water Factory signaled the first availability of piped water across Shanghai and China. For decades, it was the largest water factory in Asia. However, during the summers, people preferred using well water as it was much cooler. The municipal government banned the use of well water late in the 1980s for fear of land subsidence as a result of the overdrawing of water.
– China’s own electronic fan, Wahson, was born in Shanghai. Invented by three former bank clerks who were convinced that the city should not be dominated by imported General Electric fans, the made-in-China appliance spurred a wave of patriotism that compelled people to use domestic goods.
However, because Wahson fans cost twice the average monthly income of a working class person back then, they did not become a household necessity in Shanghai until the early 1980s.
– The first building that featured central air-conditioning in China was built in Shanghai. Originally a private residence for a British merchant, the building is now occupied by the China Welfare Institute and has been nicknamed as “the marble building” for its massive use of the imported stone from Italy. The building is believed to have been built at a cost equivalent to 25 million kilos of rice back then, enough to feed 140,000 people.
– The first window-mounted air-conditioner in China was made by Shanghai Refrigerator Factory. The product was initially exclusive to special venues like hospitals but had by the late 1990s replaced electric fans across the country.
– Shanghai’s first air-conditioned public buses hit the roads. As air-conditioning was still considered a luxury, many citizens flocked to these air-conditioned vehicles when they were first introduced. The fares for these air-conditioned buses, which were twice that of regular ones, caused some controversy too. Passengers were unhappy that they were paying the same amount during the cooler seasons of spring and autumn when the air-conditioning was switched off.
Time Alley, a new tourism attraction in Shiliupu along the Huangpu River, brings visitors back to the old Shanghai days.