Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva
avezink

When Shanghai’s old town was a square (1524)

A curious map of Shanghai from the 1524 county gazetteer was reproduced in this post. The map predates the construction of the city wall by some 30 years. Because the wall and the defense moat were financed jointly by the citizens, they were constructed along the most economical trajectory, enclosing Shanghai in an oval shape for the next 300 years. But this 1524 cartographer thought, perhaps, that Shanghai could aspire to become something more than a provincial fortress, so he drew it as a rectilinear city with a "magic square" layout. He emphasized the longest, straightest north-south streets – Sanpailou 三牌楼 (Three-Arch Road), Sipailou 四牌楼 (Four-Arch Road) and the avenue at the gate of the county magistrate's yamen. Additionally, he depicted the city creeks as straight channels, oriented from east to west, thus realising – at least on paper – his vision of a proper and orderly imperial city.




Tags: 1524, 1553, city wall, maps, ming era, old town, shanghai, 老城厢
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