Shanghai and the 305

Content is drawn in part from Stella Dong’s, Shanghai, The Rise and fall of a Decadent City.

Opium and Cocaine

Miami’s role in the cocaine trade during the 1980’s heavily influenced the evolution of the city just as the Opium trade in the late 1800’s shaped Shanghai’s.

“Even as late as 1914, when the amount of foreign opium entering Shanghai had been drastically cut, the North China Herald declared, ‘Practically every foreign bank and every big Chinese piece goods, yarn or metal dealer is involved [in the opium trade]'” (SD, Shanghai, p. 61).

In Miami, during the 1980s, billions were being generated from the cocaine trade. Foreign banks sprang up all over Brickell Avenue. Miami was, as Shanghai was with Opium, the main entry point for Cocaine for the entire country. I’ve mentioned this comparison here before.

Foreign Investment, Booms, and Busts

During the late 19th century, foreign investment in Shanghai was paramount, when several of the most powerful firms collapsed, the real estate market went with them.

Their was, “panic in the real estate market” as “streets, then neighborhoods, emptied of tenants. Builders who had spent a fortune on construction materials bought at inflated prices saw their projects stopped midway through completion” (SD, p. 64).


“Shanghai had been built upon speculation: the pattern of a boom followed by a bust was to be repeated every two or three decades, as gamblers by nature, the port’s residents were only too easily tempted by the prospect of quick riches” (SD, Shanghai, p. 64).

Shanghai’s legacy of boom and bust, real estate speculation, major drug trafficking, corrupt city officials, businesses, and banks make its similarities to Miami all the more enigmatic.

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