Five Storied Teahouse, Shanghai
29 cm x 22 cm
A skilled, but anonymous photographer made this rare early view of the famous Five-Storied Teahouse on Fuzhou Road in Shanghai. It was taken from an elevated vantage point offering a bird’s eye view of its fashionable patrons. The men on the balconies face the camera with confident expressions. The photographer portrays them as successful cosmopolitan men representative of progressive nineteenth-century Shanghai.
The ornate storefronts reveal the distinct characteristics of this particular commercial district. Indeed photographs like this street view help to convey the social and cultural structure of China’s cities. Teahouses, which began to appear in Shanghai in the 1860s and 1870s, served as centers of entertainment and performance.