Check Out The Amazing Contrasts In Shanghai Right Now

Child, Children, Little Girl, Little Boy, Shanghai, China, Asia, Yepoka Yeebo

Photo: Yepoka Yeebo / Business Insider

Just after 10pm every night, the neon signs, racing lights and huge TV screens that make up Shanghai’s impressive skyline flicker off.And just like that, China’s most cosmopolitan city — home to 23 million people — feels almost serene.

When I visited earlier this month, all the city’s contrasts were dramatic.

Traditional two-and three-story homes set along tiny, tight alleyways packed with people are overshadowed by the massive old condo buildings just blocks away.

The city is studded with stunning neoclassical and Art Deco architecture, including the former headquarters of HSBC, and the city’s old French colonial neighbourhood. But it’s also home to gleaming, manicured neighborhoods of skyscrapers.

Signs of China’s growing wealth are everywhere: it felt like there was a Cartier store or Lamborghini dealership on every other corner. But nearby tiny store-fronts doubled as living rooms as families gathered round to eat dinner and watch TV.

This construction site will soon be the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China. Just minutes away, there were rows and rows of Soviet-era apartment buildings.

The 88-story Jin Mao Tower dominated the Pudong skyline. On the opposite bank of the Huangpu River, was the stunning, neo-classical architecture of the Bund.

Spot the tallest building in mainland China, in Shanghai's Pudong neighbourhood. Most of it was built in the last decade.

Shanghai's layered roads and flyovers looked completely overbuilt, but each rush hour, they were jammed with traffic.

The city's shiny new metro system can shuttle you from extreme wealth to Communist-modesty to striving poverty in minutes.

An older building inside the walls of a Shanghai construction site surrounded by glitzy new developments and manicured parks.

More traditional, modest houses are overshadowed by towering apartment buildings.

Laundry draped on poles outside older apartment windows.

Birdcages and tangled wires in a quieter neighbourhood of the city.

A songbird for sale in the nearby Bird Market...

... grasshoppers too.

But there were also many places to get your luxury fix, here a Cartier store in the city's old French neighbourhood.

One of the city's many luxury car dealerships.

There were signs of wealth everywhere.

And signs of more modest success. Many small businesses were thriving.

... turning blocks of tofu golden on a street-side grill...

...selling fruit outside the city's garment market...

...making Shanghai's famous soup dumplings...

The steaming, finished product.

Photographers shooting wedding photos in the stunning, restored Xintiandi neighbourhood.

Inside a store in a district full of shops selling huge packets of neon dye.

And of course, there was plenty of government work. Here a municipal worker makes a broom out of twigs.

Taking a break in the city's older, winding streets.

American brands were everywhere...

from products...

to services...

and insurance companies...

to fashion and beauty retailers...

and, of course, Walmart.

There were also markets in narrow alleyways lined with homes and businesses...

Two of the neighbourhood's younger residents.

The city is home to 23 million people.

And infrastructure to match. Here bikers wait for the lights to change.

And one impressive rider.

Workshops were busy even as the night closed in.

And the city's skyline lit up.

Some shop floors turned into living rooms.

Across town, the Old Jazz Band at the Peace Hotel has been playing since the 1980s.

Just after 10pm every night, the city's neon signs are turned off and the streetlights glow.

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