On the outskirts of the bustling city lies some of the newest additions to the area, a modern development area that includes the enormous mall here, as well as the giant new museum that I was standing in when I took the picture. Surrounded by high rises, the mall contains at least six floors begging to be shopped, with ribbons and streamers and lots of busy displays and professional salesmen roaming the atrium at the bottom floor. There is a Dairy Queen, the only one I ever saw in China, and a Starbucks (fairly rare outside of Beijing and Shanghai), and lots of stores selling home goods, like dishes and bedding and child's play room equipment. The only problem was, the sales people far outnumbered the shoppers; it was a largely deserted mall on the two occasions I visited it. It was obviously a huge investment for the city, or the government, or whoever built it. And they built it for a time in the future, most likely, hoping that within a few years the population of Yangzhou would find their pocketbooks able to handle consumer spending À la the western model.
I don't imagine the global economic situation has helped this mall in the years since I last saw it. Notice the many cranes gracing the skyline on both sides of the shopping mall, the ubiquitous sign of expansion and change throughout my time in the country. Every city has this crane skyline. I can only imagine what this mall and this same city will look like ten years from the time of this snapshot, for better or worse. I'll try to go back in 2017.