Shanghai has had an amazing story in its journey from the past to today. In 1842 it was opened by the Daoguang Emperor and emissaries of Queen Victoria, as one of 5 chinese trading ports. That was the starting point that led to the Shanghai of today, holding the international expo.
It was a time where there was a mix of cultures, of strangers meeting each other. All these flowed from 1842 until the 1930s. In the late 1930s, a war occurred between China and Japan, resulting in many executions, bombs falling onto residential areas, people dying and the eventual japanese occupation.
Rice was scarce following the war of the Chinese Communist Party, which coincidentally was birthed in Shanghai in 1920, and slowly grew in power leading up to 25th of May 1949. Thereafter there were giant rallies of armies marching in, practicing maneuvers and the many other things of old associated thus.
Finally in 1980s China under the control of the communist party, decided to open itself to the world and Shanghai was once again reopened to the world. New departmental stores, legalized street markets and once again people from other countries walking down their streets.
Eventually, Shanghai further blossomed into the city that it is today, something much like any other major city. Unlike that of Beijing, which has continually been in a cycle of self destruction and renewal, Shanghai seems to have been cycling through periods of bloom followed by hibernation through winter.
With modern theaters showing contemporary movies, and the roads teeming with automobiles of makes around the world, and the global focus turning onto the shanghai international expo, it is now a popular place for travel, hiking and jacking up the air prices for travel.
Shanghai is too occupied with the future to care much more about its past, and that may well be a good thing, as the skyscrapers of Pudong financial district gets taller, it brings about a promise of future mobility and prosperity. Something to keep in mind sightseeing shanghai