Pictures from a colorful golden age

Updated: 2014-09-12 08:35

By Yu Ran(Shanghai Star)

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Pictures from a colorful golden age

The underworld: Du Yuesheng (right) was a legendary Shanghai gangster who controlled the city’s gambling, prostitution, protection rackets and drug tra- cking. Photo provided to Shanghai Star

Pictures from a colorful golden age
Dreaming of a lost city
Pictures from a colorful golden age
 Memories of another era
The legendary underworld

Infamous figures such as Du Yuesheng (1888-1951) were noted public figures, influential leaders, and chief gangsters in the 1930s.

At the time, Shanghai was a crime-friendly city. Simply by crossing a street one could put themselves beyond the reach of one of the city's three jurisdictions – Chinese, British-American and French – and into another.

Known by his nickname "Big Ears" and acclaimed as "Shanghai Emperor", Du was born to a poor Chinese family in Pudong. However, he used his smarts to climb through the ranks of Shanghai’s underworld until he eventually reigned supreme.

Du used his connections with government and the police to control the majority of the city's gambling, prostitution, protection rackets and drug trafficking. The network with those officials also enabled Du to establish himself above and beyond his criminal peers and to form partnerships with key players. He was renowned for his abilities as a diplomat and social climber.

Ruthless in action but tall and elegant in person, he cut a fine figure in his Chinese silks. He not only found time between his criminal activities to socialize with Peking Opera and movie stars, but also played a prominent role as a public benefactor.

"I was attracted by the images of the city where I was born and grew up when I was invited to write the book. They are filled with memories."

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