Has the Shanghai World Expo improved the city, and the lives of those who live there? Signs for the expo with the saying ‘Better City, Better Life’ sprung up around the city over two years ago,and although expats and locals joked about the appearance of the signs amid construction cranes and dusty streets, the saying might have since proven true. A simple glance at the city two years ago shows a surprising increase in the cleanliness and decrease in inner-city construction. Yes, most of the construction was only there to build the expo, expand the subway network for the expo and to improve the city to impress expo guests, but that is a moot point.
The international world was impressed with Beijing at the 2008 summer Olympics, and the city retained a certain charm, cleanliness and improved social status abroad and at home after the games. Will Shanghai experience a similar everlasting bliss after the Expo? That remains to be seen, but lets take a quick look at the impressive changes brought to the city for the Expo.
Transportation - Two new subway lines were added to the already impressive and useful underground metro network in Shanghai. These lines offer access to some of the city’s most important spots, like the new lines that stretch from the Pudong International Airport to the Hongqiao National Airport, for those disinterested in the extremely impressive Maglev. Another new line even stretches into the French Concession, an area notoriously hard to access before the inception of the new line.
Cleaning Up - The city is noticeably cleaner than two years ago, and this may have a lot to do with the decrease in inner-city construction and the work associated with the new subway lines and expansions of some major road arteries. Where you used to be able to walk along the Bund and find any number of people selling food, trinkets, photos and even handicrafts, now you find a much less congested boardwalk. Two years ago, the entire area around the Bund (the main road) was closed for repairs that had been under construction since 2006. Luckily, the expo has resulted in the Bund area’s clean up and improvement. In a much smaller way, the city has improved in the increase of trash bins, the number of street cleaners and the new subway lines, which ease some traffic congestion and pollution.
Internationalism - Due to the expo, locals are taking a deeper interest in the international world in a great way. Daily reports on CCTV in China detail what events are happening at the expo from day to day, as well as giving a brief overview on the country of the day. A short TV presentation on the history, culture, economy and government of each country on their special expo day has become a staple of TV life in Shanghai.