Land use in Shanghai, 1932-2012

The Virtual Shanghai team has produced a new set of maps based on data processed and integrated into our GIS. This is the result of a short-term project conducted by Tan Junmin, a GIS graduate student from the University of Strasbourg, as part of his internship at the Institut d’Asie Orientale. Tan Junmin processed a series of maps (1932-2012), as well as aerial photographs (1927, 1939, 2001) which served as the documentary basis for his survey of the transformation of land use in the Shanghai Municipality/region over the last 80 years.

Most maps indicate only the street network, which provides only a vague indication of the actual built-up area. In his work, Tan Junmin selected maps from the Virtual Shanghai collection that provided a clear view of the built-up area. He confronted these maps with aerial photographs taken at three different dates. One of the daunting challenges was the georectifying of the 1927 image that covered not just the urban area, but also large track of rural land. Tan Junmin also made a systematic record of all towns and villages all around Shanghai based on the detailed Japanese army maps of 1932 (see Maps ID 217218219220221222223224). This unique database of historical rural settlements provided the basis for a study of the process of urban expansion and absorption of these villages into the expanding urban fabric.

A major output of this study was the production of a set of five maps on land use and urban expansion for 1973, 1982, 1997, 2003, and 2012. This set of maps establishes the prodigious expansion of the built-up area between 1982 and 1997 during the first phase of the reforms. Since 1997, the urban expansion has continued to reach out, albeit at a slower pace. The second output was a study of the fate of towns and villages as they met the unfolding urban expansion. In two maps, Tan Junmin has established the distribution of all human settlements in the countryside around Shanghai in 1932. Then by contrasting this distribution pattern with the expansion of the built-up area, he produced a map that displays the process of disappearance of these settlements up to 2012.

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