Everyone is getting ready for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1. We’ve already seen preparations for the big parade in Beijing, which has meant lots of military hardware: tanks, armored personnel carriers and countless perfectly starched uniforms. If videos of the 50th anniversary celebrations are anything to go by, it promises to be an impressive show.
Of course, while it’s a national celebration, it would be unlike Shanghai to let Beijing take all the glory. But not being the sort of place that thrives on military parades, Shanghai is getting ready in its own way. In this case, "its own way" means a weapons-grade searchlight installation putting on psychedelic light shows after sundown.
The searchlights – in arrays of five – have been placed on the tops of buildings in the "Brilliant City" (Zhongyuan Liangwancheng) development in Shanghai’s Putuo district. The development, located on the north bank of Suzhou Creek, is considered by the Shanghai government to be something of a model of urban redevelopment: What used to be Shanghai’s largest slum along its largest open sewer is now a string of comfortable residential high-rise blocks along a slowly recovering creek.
The light display is clearly meant to draw attention to the area – it can be seen miles away – and is awe-inspiring in its way. "Better City, Better Life," indeed.