Introduction of Shikumen
Shikumen came from the migration after the Small Swords Rebellion and the Taiping Revolution in 1853. At that time, the buildings were simply made of wood. Shikumen gradually developed its own style with beautiful stone gates and capacious courtyards. The word “shikumen” means “Stone Warehouse Gate”.
Shikumen are not only functional and but also artistic. They contain the Eastern style of traditional Chinese courtyard and decoration of Western styles such as Art Deco, Baroque, Flemish, Spanish and French. The neighborhoods of Shikumen are usually called “lilong”, which means alleys.
Shikumen plays an important role in Chinese history. The former Jewish Ghettos and residences of writers, actors, and revolutionaries were formed in Shikumen. Many Shanghainese films in the 20th century chose Shikumen as the scenes.
The Current Condition of Shikumen
The Shikumen which are related to the Communist Party were preserved as exhibition centers and became tourist destinations. Also, the commercial Shikumen became popular, such as "Xintiandi" redesigned by Benjamin Wood and the renovated "Tianzifang". However, a large number of traditional Shikumen neighborhoods are disappearing.