Theses Master's

A Comparative Study on the Preservation of Industrial Waterfronts in Shanghai and New York City

Xue, Wenjing

As global port cities, Shanghai and New York City share incredible similarities in their development patterns along their waterfronts since the industrial revolution, from prosperous industry, to decay, and to public parks. The thesis aims to investigate how industrial histories are preserved and interpreted in post-industrial waterfront parks in the two cities through the lens of industrial infrastructure saved in the parks, as it is the infrastructure and related production processes that made the industrial sites unique though a discussion of this infrastructure has been neglected in previous studies on industrial heritage preservation.

The thesis consists of an analysis of historic preservation mechanisms and industrial preservation practices in the two cities and the comparative case studies of Yangshupu Power Plant Relics Park in Shanghai and Domino Park in New York. The findings indicate how two completely different political systems result in similar outcomes. For lack of regulatory oversight on the infrastructure from the government, both sites take a more design-focused approach that results in the arrangement of the objects statically with less consideration of creatively interpreting how the infrastructure was formerly operated by people within the whole working system. This has led to the fragmentation of the artifacts in the parks and their use as mere ornamentation. Recommendations and general guidelines for future industrial waterfront infrastructure-related projects are provided in the last part of the thesis.

Overall, the study underscores the importance and great opportunities of preserving and interpreting infrastructure in post-industrial waterfronts as a way to retain their distinctive industrial histories and provide future generations with an actual connection to the industrial past.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Dolkart, Andrew S.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 21, 2023