The Shanghai government weighs the value of history

The Shanghai government weighs the value of history

Of the 1,000-plus possible historic homes in Shanghai, the local powers that be decide only 199 merit protection

Shanghai government weighs the value of historic Shanghai homesJiumudi once made its living off Shanghai’s vices, but today few buildings remain to mark the area’s colorful history.To those who have seen the last few years of “urban renewal,” to put it politely, in Shanghai, few would say that the government seems overly concerned with maintaining the city’s cultural landmarks.

As a recent city survey of historic homes though is a step -- albeit small -- in the right direction, as housing officials assessed more than 354 homes in 11 districts where famous Shanghai residents from politicians to tycoons and artists, once lived to see which, if any, merited protection.

Some 199 are now on the protected list, but the remaining 155 are not.

“Many old residences deserve protection which they do not enjoy now," said survey leader Zhu Minyan, a deputy director with the culture and history committee of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference according to Shanghai Daily.

"We will continue ongoing appraisal work and consider these buildings case by case on historic and artistic grounds," said Yu Sijia, the chief engineer with the housing bureau yesterday, responding to Zhu's comment.

Previous efforts to catalog the city’s historic buildings put the number closer to 1,000 -- not 354 --  historic buildings, but accoring to Yu "not all are worthy of government preservation."

A number of reasons have been given for a general lack of protection, according to the historic homes assessment, including lax regulations and lack of money for maintenance.

Local historian Paul French recently posted a blog titled “What We Lost 2010 – Shanghai’s Architectural Losses Last Year.” The post listed a number of historic Shanghai buildings that were lost to bulldozers and disrepair last year.

The list includes Weihai Lu, Maoming Nan Lu and Wujiang Lu among a number of others

To read more about the Shanghai historic buildings that need protection and the stories behind them, read on at our "Historic Shanghai" column.