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November 3, 2021

Street Life of Shanghai in 1947

“A great, wicked and quite extraordinary city” was how, in 1947, LIFE described Shanghai. In 1947, four million people had made the City their residence (today, that number is 26 million). It seemed that at any one time, a very substantial proportion of the population was on the Shanghai streets.

“The traffic has become a monstrous, screaming blend of rickshaws, coolie-powered push carts, limousines, three-wheeled pedicabs, jeeps and six-ton trucks,” exclaimed LIFE.

These vintage photographs, taken by Mark Kauffman (1921-1994), depict some of the many and various human-powered vehicles to be found on the streets of Shanghai in 1947.

Kauffman was an award-winning photographer for LIFE magazine. At 17, he became the youngest photographer ever to shoot a cover for the magazine, when he did a photo portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt. He was a staff photographer for over 30 years, covering events in the United States, Europe and the Far East. He received the White House News Photographers’ Grand Award in 1953. He later served as director of photography for Playboy magazine for five years and was a professor of photography at California Polytechnic State University.

(Photos by Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


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