Shanghai industries in wartime
A whole new series of maps is now available on the Virtual Shanghai platform (see Maps – eAtlas) on the evolution of Shanghai industries during the early years of the war with Japan (1937-1945). These maps are based on the annual surveys made by the Shanghai Municipal Police in the International Settlement between 1930 and 1940. While our main focus is the wartime period, the newly released maps include two prewar years, 1935 and 1936. We plan to expand this study to the early 1930s (1930 & 1931), as well as to 1934 for which new surveys have been dug out from the archives. All the maps include “International Settlement” in the original title.
Although the surveys cover only the International Settlement they represent a very large and representative sample of Shanghai industries. During the war, owing to the migration of factories from Chinese-administered territories into the International Settlement, the bulk of industries actually concentrated in this single area.
One of the challenges was to process this very rich and complex set of data. This was done through the use of GIS that offered the possibility to process these data and apply them to the various layers already in place. In particular, the increasingly complete historical street database and geocoded addresses allowed us to locate most of the factories (79%) at their exact original address. The use of GIS also allowed to trace the life of the factories through time, especially their fate after the 1937 conflict that erased entire areas in the city. In addition to location, the surveys provided data on workforce, nationality, and industrial branch. It is therefore possible to reconstruct the changing geography of industries in Shanghai over a 10-year period (1930-1940).
Factories and workforce in 1936