Shanghai is divided into two parts by a river: Pudong (East of the Huangpu River) and Puxi (West of the Huangpu River). Puxi is the traditional Shanghai, trying to establish itself as a Chinese-style modern city, while Pudong identifies itself with a future Shanghai. Although new bridges and tunnels now connect the city’s two parts, the gap between the Huangpu’s banks shows no sign of narrowing.
As an old saying goes, "It is better to have a bed in Puxi than a house in Pudong". Pudong was nothing but farmland 15 years ago, while Puxi boasts skyscrapers, shopping malls and the exotic architecture of the Bund. Pudong would have been the last choice for a place to live for any Shanghainese at a time when the only access to Pudong from Puxi was the ferry.
Dramatic changes have taken place in Pudong since the central government decided to open up the area 15 years ago. Pudong began a decade-long orgy of state-funded construction. Shanghai’s rise has marveled at the madness of Pudong from an urban planning perspective.
There are some futuristic buildings in Pudong. The Oriental Pearl TV tower and its spheres look like a rocket from a science fiction movie. The tower, which represents the modern spirit of China, is the heart of a skyline that would make any city proud. Some intersections in Pudong are so vast that you have to take a taxi to get from one Pudong skyscraper to its neighbor.
A new saying goes like this: "If Shanghai is leading China’s economy, Pudong is leading Shanghai’s". Pudong has witnessed tremendous changes in industries, technical innovation, infrastructure and private housing in the past a decade and a half. Pudong has not only made great progress in its economic construction and reform, but also shows its potential to be the city’s cultural and artistic magnet.
Although there is better infrastructure, wider streets, cleaner air, there are not enough people in Pudong and it lacks attractiveness. Pudong, built from rice fields into a city of the future, lacks taste behind its concrete buildings and green areas. Even to newcomers, the difference between the two is obvious. After business hours, Pudong is all but deserted.