To a degree uncommon among Chinese cities, Republican Shanghai had no center. Its territory was divided among three (sometimes more) municipal governments integrated into various national states and empires. No government building or religious institution gave Shanghai a “center." Yet amidst deep cleavages, the city functioned as a coherent whole. What held Shanghai together? The authors' answer is that a group of middlemen with myriad connections across political and social boundaries created networks that held Republican Shanghai together.