Discovery - - DISCOVERIES 新發現 - Mark Jones Editorial director Mark Jones編輯總監

WHEN THE HISTORY of the early 20th century is written, which city deserves a chapter all to itself? Let me give you a shortlist of two. First, San Francisco – it became the global capital of consumer tech as its inventors, geeks and unicorns changed the way we live and interact with one another. And then there’s Shanghai.

If it’s a numbers game, Shanghai wins: bigger population, faster growth

– and most spectacular reinventions. And that is meant to be a plural. The before and after shots over the Bund to Pudong tell a history of the modern world. At the end of the 20th century, it looked like many other once-thriving, now declining port cities (especially Liverpool, whose architecture and trade it shared): a couple of fine 19th century buildings stranded in a dreary riverscape of tower blocks and light industry (top). The Pudong ‘after’ is the city of the future, as imagined by 1950s comic book illustrators: a glistening garden of impossibly high, fantastically shaped buildings (above).

I did a fair bit of work and spent plenty of time in Shanghai seven years ago: but I’d now hesitate to say I really ‘know’ the city, so rapid is the rate of change. That’s why we need regular reports like our cover story (page 34) to keep tabs on this most protean and restless of places. Another surge is happening. Soon, perhaps, those futuristic shots of Pudong will themselves look historical. 如果要寫20世紀初的歷史,哪個城市值得以一章的篇幅來講呢?我認為有兩個城市入圍。第一個是三藩市。雲集這裡的發明家、科技達人與獨角獸(指價值十億美元或以上的初創科技公司)將我們的生活及互相溝通的方式改變,令這座城市成為全球消費科技之都。而另一個就是上海。

如果這是一個數字遊戲,無論是人口數目、增長速度與將舊有事物再創造的能力,上海都是大贏家。而且這些都是雙位數字。將外灘到浦東一帶的舊照片與今時今日的近照作個對比,就會展現出一段現代世界的歷史。在20世紀末,這裡看來一如 其他曾經繁華、現正走下坡的港口城市(特別是利物浦,兩者無論建築與貿易都十分相近):河畔林立的高樓與輕工業區形成沉悶的風景,中間夾雜幾座精緻的19世紀建築(最上圖)。浦東經過變身後,成為一座1950年代漫畫師想像出來的未來城市,裡面是一幢又一幢高聳入雲、外型稀奇古怪的建築(上圖)。

七年前我花了不少功夫和時間認識上海,不過由於改變的速度實在太快,現在我也不敢說自己真的認識這座城市。對於這樣一個變化多端和躁動不安的地方,我們需要一些像本期封面故事( 34頁)的定期報導,來讓我們追上它的近況。上海正湧起新一波的變化,照片上洋溢未來氣息的浦東,也許很快就會成為歷史陳跡了。

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