Originally called Shen, the city was a prosperous Mongol trading center from the 10th to the 12th century AD. Renamed Feng-t¡¯ien, it was under Chinese control during 1368-1625; and, as Mukden and Shengking, was an early capital (1625-1644) of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1644-1911) before its conquest of Beijing. Modern development, begun by Russian interests in 1895, continued under Japanese influence following the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and with the aid of powerful local warlords. The Mukden Incident (1913) marked the start of the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and establishment of the former Japanese-controlled state of Manchukuo (1932-1945). Looted of its industrial equipment, the city was returned to China in 1945 and renamed Shenyang in 1948. It was the capital (1949-1954) of the short-lived Northeast Administrative Region and was rebuilt as a diversified industrial center in the 1950s
The city of grey, brown, and black
Every guide book will tell you that Shenyang is the last place you would ever want to visit. The tourist attractions pale in comparison to, well, everywhere else. The summers are HOT (a "dry" heat, though)and the winters are COLD. The sun sets very early in the winter, making December through February cold, sooty, and dark. The universities often have some trouble finding teachers willing to live in this city. Not even SARS came to Shenyang!
That being said, there are still signs of life here, and a visit here doesn't have to include wailing and gnashing of teeth. Hints of Manchu, Korean, and even Russian culture survive here. Like most places in China, the people are friendly here and the food is great. The cabbies haven't once tried to cheat me (I can't say the same about Wu Ai Market, of course...)! The springtime is wonderful here as bright green emerges from the grey, brown, and black that is the Shenyang winter. April-May is a very pleasant time to be here. The long summer nights can be made fun beating the heat with some spicy Shao Kao and plenty of cold Snow Beer. If you end up here during the winter, warm up with some hearty Dongbei food and rent some ice skates by Qingnian Park.
I have lived here since the Fall of 2002. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line. If you want to play some 'weiqi' with me (I am a KGS 7k) or know some good places in China for weiqi, please let me know!