In 1999 and 2000, while I was completing my doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, I used a set of commercial maps of Shanghai published in the 1940s to map out the city’s entertainment quarters. These commercial maps are quite well known, and they provide an extremely detailed record of the individual establishments, residences, and businesses that existed in the city at that time. Other scholars have used them, included Christian Henriot, who mapped out the city’s prostitution quarters in his book Prostitution and Sexuality in Shanghai.
I put together the commercial maps and made a large wall-size poster, and then I used color pens to map out the various entertainment places in the city. Although my focus was on dancing establishments (ballrooms, dance halls, nightclubs), I was also looking at how these establishments fit into a larger environment of entertainment culture in the city.
The results of my mapping exercise eventually led me to construct these maps, which are included in my first book, Shanghai’s Dancing World. These maps show how the entertainment sector of the city was concentrated in the middle of the city, mainly in the international settlement surrounding the Recreation Ground, which was a racetrack for horse racing and also a parade ground and sports field for the British imperialists and their lackeys (haha, waxing Red here…)
Below are the maps I created to map out the city’s entertainment district and its subdistricts: shopping, theaters, and hotels. Dance establishments are also concentrated in this district and they are dispersed throughout and deeply integrated into the sub-districts. They also spread out into other parts of the city via the main roads in the International Settlement and French Concession (I will include a map of dance establishments in another posting).