Quite true - William Gibson, come visit China ASAP!
by Jeff Wasserstrom
Once upon time (well, say a century ago), when people thought about the excitement and terrors of the urban future, the cities they would focus on were likely to be European or North American ones – places such as Paris, London, New York, and Berlin. During the decades following World War II, new cities, mostly ones perched on the Pacific came into the mix, including Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo. Most recently, Chinese mainland cities, which seemed anything but futuristic as recently as the 1980s, have become important symbols of the dreams and nightmares of the contemporary age. In particular, Shanghai’s skyscrapers and superfast maglev train have led to comments about its ahead-of-the-curve features by everyone from urban theorists to celebrities. To cite just one of the latter, Paris Hilton, upon arriving in the city for the first time a few years ago, exclaimed simply: “Shanghai looks like the future!”