Amazing Shanghai' story displayed in heart of New York

Updated: 2013-09-17 05:23

By CAROLINE BERG in New York (

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Shanghai has been called the "New York of the East". This week, the New York of the East has set up temporary residence at New York's iconic Rockefeller Center.

"Amazing Shanghai: A Century of Shanghai and Beyond in Pictures" is a traveling outdoor photo exhibition with four themes that tell the story of Shanghai's development, including key historical moments and achievements since Shanghai opened its port in 1843.

Amazing Shanghai' story displayed in heart of New York

HG Esch’s Shanghai panorama is nearly 18 feet by 18 feet and on display this week outside on Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York.Caroline Berg/China Daily

The exhibition opened Monday and will be on display through Saturday, Sept 21. It is free and open to the public, and located in Midtown Manhattan at both Rockefeller Plaza and the underground Rockefeller Center Concourse. It was organized by the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality to help people develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Chinese urban center.

Rockefeller Center, a New York landmark and home to a number of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, including NBC television's studios, attracts about 350,000 visitors daily, according to the Tishman Speyer website.

Tishman Speyer, which acquired Rockefeller Center in 1999, is hosting the exhibition. One of the presentations features the real estate firm's development project called "The Springs", a residential, commercial and retail complex being constructed on 66 acres of land and located beside a 33-acre wetland ecopark in Shanghai.

Among the presentations in the concourse is a history of the Jewish community in Shanghai. The first wave of Jewish settlers took place when Shanghai opened its port after the First Opium War, which ended in 1842, many prominent individuals from the Jewish community, particularly from British-controlled areas, became some of the first foreign traders in the city. Then, in the early 20th century, Russian Jews began to migrate to the city en masse. The centerpiece of the history is when Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe fled to Shanghai in the 1930s.

An estimated 18,000 Jewish refugees settled in Shanghai between 1933 and 1941, when the city was occupied by Japan. Jewish refugees established small businesses and set themselves up as doctors and teachers in the war-torn Hongkou District.

By the early 1940s, the Jewish population in Shanghai was estimated to have reached 25,000, and an area populated by Jews around Chusan Road became known as Little Vienna for its European-style cafes, delicatessens, nightclubs, shops and bakeries. The Jewish community also established associations, synagogues, schools and publications.

Another presentation in the "Amazing Shanghai" production features contemporary Shanghai-style Chinese pen-and-ink painting produced by eight artists — Zhang Anpu, Zhao Guxing, Yu Shi, Cao Xiaoming, Wan Fu, Kong Derun, Mao Donghua and Weng Yingtao.

Outside on Rockefeller Center Plaza, overlooking the skating rink area, visitors enter a rotunda to observe German photographer HG Esch's 360-degree panorama view of modern day Shanghai, consisting of 60 images taken this year from Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower in the new district of Pudong on the bank of the Huangpu River.