Population Zoning in the former French Concession

Urbanisation zones in the French Concession
Urbanisation zones in the French Concession

I have often wondered how zones of Old Shanghai were urbanised, of there was any planning at all. I recently encountered a document showing occupation zones of the French Concession in 1934. The document is in French and I have not been able to ascertain its origin or its author, but here is it for sharing with readers:

“Zones of population dispatch in the French Concession in 1934.

The dispatch of population was started from the beginning of the 20th century, continue following similar trends. From the cadaster study from 1934, the concentration of Chinese population is the highest near the Chinese city (Zone I). From the administration point of view, it is reserved for the native population; buildings of all styles can be erected, shops, factories in living quarters are mixed altogether.

Zone II is next to the business district (located in the International Settlement), occupied by many living quarters and Chines shops. The French municipality wanted to transform it into a ‘European City’ because of its size and it proximity with the business district but ambitions of the French municipality was never realized due to heavy cost of such a project. However, in order to smooth traffic and create more space between the buildings, it is decided to erect higher buildings in this area and avoid the anarchy of older constructions.

Zone III is occupied by shops and residence for the middle class. All constructions are allowed, but they must follow rules about aesthetic and keeping quiet around public facilities, including schools and hospital. Those exclude polluting or noise generating industries. European styles shops are favored on the street side, along with keeping space between buildings.

Zone IV is reserved for residential area and was further extended up to Xu Jia Hui. As a consequence, any factory not following “aesthetic rules” of the French municipality were prohibited so as to guarantee a western type of architecture and avoid pollution in this upper class area.”

It is interesting to compare this 1934 study with current urban development in Shanghai. Zone I is being totally transformed into a modern living area, along with the area  of Zone III where Xin Tian Di is located. At the same time, Zone VI has kept most of its charm and is now often referred as “the Former French Concession”, when it actually is only a part of it.

8 thoughts on “Population Zoning in the former French Concession”

  1. This is a nice post, as always. I follow your blog whenever I receive email notifications about updates. I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs written by Russians who lived in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. Recalling the arrival of Russians in the mid-1920s, writers liked to mention that Avenue Joffre used to be a sleepy suburban road lined with wooden one-story shacks (and then Russians came in and transformed it, naturally :-). In the late 1930s the eastern part of Avenue Joffre (Zone II) was referred to as the “poor part of the French Concession, while the western part felt rich and modern, as a new development zone. All of this is quite in line with your findings. Keep on the great work! Katya

  2. Hugues,
    Congratulations and thanks for another useful and interesting blog !
    Would you happen to have a map with the old French Concession and International Settlement names? (the one in your current blog is not easy to read)
    I searched Google for such a document but wasn’t successful.
    Thanks !

  3. I am the descendant of the Fondator of the ISS Ste as welll as FONCIM and the Picardie. My Grand father came in Shanghai in 1902 and died in 1937 in the documentary Of Zou BING title: The BUND Rene Eugene FANO storys part of
    on the site ” Union des Français de Chine ”
    you will known more about the “French Concession”
    Best regards
    John Patrick

  4. Dear numbers of this blog
    if you need any answer regarding the French settlement of Shanghai please contact me on this address from 1900 to 1956>
    My family leaved there I have many map and archives
    Best regards
    John Patrick

  5. Dear moderator
    I haven’t any problems if my adress email is publish
    Best regards
    John Patrick

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