Thames Town in Shanghai
The developers behind China’s copycat communities go to stunning lengths to ensure their copies evoke the character of the western original, from emulating European urban planning principles, to naming streets after western landmarks.
No detail is too small to overlook: In Shanghai’s Thames Town, shown here, security guards dressed like Buckingham palace guards patrol cobblestone streets with names like “Chelsea Lane,” which are lined with pubs, cafes and even statues of British greats like Winston Churchill.
Thames Town’s crown jewel is a Gothic cathedral modeled on the Christ Church in Bristol, England, both pictured. Though only a small percentage of China’s populace is Christian, churches are a staple of the nation’s themed towns, and attract a flood of Chinese couples who pose for wedding portraits against the churches. Thames Town’s “Christ Church” attracts so many newlyweds that the town set up a prop table adorned with a fake wedding cake, bottle of champagne, and basket of baguettes that photographers use to stage scenes of marital bliss.
Photo: Bianca Bosker (L), Robert Cutts via Flickr (R)