Between 1860 and 1945, the Chinese port city of Tientsin (Tianjin) was the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, as well as, temporarily, a multi-national military government (1900-02), and a series of evolving municipal administrations. This photograph (Gr01-100) on a post card dating from around the 1920s, shows a focal part of the Italian concession: the First World War memorial in Piazza Regina Elina. It is remarkable in that one might be forgiven for assuming that the photograph was taken in a city in Italy, were it not for the caption printed on the card. The ‘fine prospects’ include a handsome villa, wide leafy avenues, the latest in concrete fencing, parking spaces, as well as Winged Victory on her column. The Italian concession was noted for its progressive town planning and architecture.
The ‘Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under Nine Flags, 1860-1949’ project aims at producing a comparative and trans-national analysis of the identities, practices and rivalries of five of the major powers established in Tianjin: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.