Originally built as an investment by four major banks, Park Hotel Shanghai was the first skyscraper built by Chinese nationals and was the most modern hotel in Asia during the 1930s. In its early days the hotel faced the citys leafy racetrack (now Peoples Square) therefore the hotel was named The Park Hotel. Designed by the eras pre-eminent Shanghai architect, the Hungarian Laslo Hudec, it was built by the Taoyuji Construction Company. Because the building was so tall there was a local saying about it that, "If you tilted your head to look at the top of the Park Hotel building, your hat will fall off ".
It is said that in 1933, a young student named Bei Yuming (now known as legendary modernist architect I.M. Pei) passed the under-construction Park Hotel and was so impressed it inspired him to further his studies in America and, in due course became a famous international architect. Pei was responsible for Paris controversial Louvre Museum Pyramid.
The hotel was the meeting place for many famous people in its heyday. Madam Soong Qingling, Manchurias Marshal Zhang Xueliang, and General Claire Chennault (leader of the wartime Flying Tigers) were all regular patrons. In 1949, Mayor Chen Yi met the senior officials from the PLA. Over the years, many famous artists and writers have immortalised the hotel in prose, poems or paintings.
In more recent times, the renovated hotel has had the pleasure of entertaining Englands Royal Ballet, the Chinese national football team and many other notable visitors to Shanghai.