Shenyang's Mega-City Future

Shenyang's Mega-City Future

It is important to understand that the scale of cities in China isn't the same as the scale of cities in North America. When you hear that Shanghai or Beijing has X million residents it is easy to imagine the cities as one massive Blade Runner meets Coruscant.

In reality, Chinese mega-cities are often individual cities that have amalgamated all the neighbouring areas like a giant amoeba.

For example, here is a map of Beijing's districts:

The 21 million residents of Beijing are not confined to the four red blocks that represent the "Beijing" most people think of - they're spread across a very expansive area. In fact, cities like Shanghai and Beijing are so large that, much like individual provinces, they have their own vehicle license plates.

Up until 2008, this was the extent of Shenyang:

For most residents, territory outside of the red zone could be summarized as "here be dragons".

Up north was air force installations and farming, the east was farmlands and mountains, the south was suburbs, factories, and farms (plus the airport) and the west was heavy industry.

In recent times, the city has expanded well beyond those confines. The heavy industry has been pushed out into the boondocks to allow for massive residential and commercial projects. Smaller communities are being torn down and replaced with giant towers of glass and expansive gated communities. Subway and light rail lines are snaking throughout the city.

Despite these changes, the foundation of Shenyang suffers from one major problem: everything is built on the same plumbing and structure that was put in place by the Japanese during the Manchurian occupation from 1932-1945.

Riding on the massive development brought about by the 2008 Olympics, the local government decided to shift the city's capital from the north to south of the river; centrally located between the airport, main arterial highway, and new high-speed rail station.

Shenyang's new administrative region will also become significantly larger as it transitions into a mega-city.

This will be Shenyang's new core region:

And this will be Shenyang's new administrative region:

The first steps to realize this plan have already begun, most noticeably with the transfer of the city's government offices from the original "Government Square" (i.e. Shenyang's Tiananmen) north of the river to the new "Government Square" south of the river.


Over the next ten years, Shenyang will transition from being a city of eight million to tens of millions.

Bonus: Here is what Shenyang looked like in 1913. Significantly smaller!

Shenyang's New City Center

Shenyang's New City Center

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