11/10/2010

Historical Cheng De (承德) Road


I took the above shot today on Cheng De (承德) Road in Taipei's historic Dadaocheng (大稻埕) District. I strolled the length of the street, from the Keelung River (基隆河) in the north down to Taipei Main Station, and this was the only place I saw that seemed to predate the 1960s. These days, Cheng De is lined with gaudy, glassy, grimy 1960 and 70-ish architecture. 

If you take the stroll, you will of course come across Cheng Yuan (成淵) High School. Established in 1898, just three years after the Japanese colonial possession of Taiwan began, Cheng Yuan was once a rustic double-story, A-frame schoolhouse, much like you might have seen in the American Mid-west at the turn of the 20th century. I think the school was in fact funded by an American Christian group from thereabouts, but I'll have to follow up. Cheng Yuan was blown up on May 31st, 1945 by the US Army (the Air Force didn't exist in those days) on probably the single most devastating day of bombing Taiwan saw during the Second World War, and that is saying something as 75 percent of her infrastructure was wrecked in around a year's time. For those of you that are familiar with Taiwanese history, you'll recognize this date. Both the Presidential Building and Lungshan Temple (龍山寺) were also hit on May 31st, 1945. 

As Cheng De used to be the eastern-most thoroughfare in Dadaocheng before, and after, the city was walled, it once was an energetic center of commerce and culture. In the 1860s, Formosa was internationally renowned for its tea. And Dadaocheng was her foremost packaging and shipping center. Hundreds of companies, many of them located on Cheng De, operated out of the neighborhood to serve this purpose. Times have changed. Technology and finance are now Taiwan's bread and butter. Most of its small, though still renowned tea industry, is based elsewhere. No shipping takes place from the wharf of Dadaocheng anymore, as it is now too silted up for ships to arrive anywhere in her vicinity. 


This is the mailbox of the place mentioned above, which I am guessing is the oldest remains of a store or business along Cheng De Road.  Notice how the mailbox is taped up.


When I dipped into an alley running off Cheng De (承德), near Ming Chuan (民權) MRT Station, I found lots of quaint buildings. In this structure, a tree had taken root in the roof.



An old building in an alley off Cheng De.

3 comments:

MJ Klein said...

looks like an interesting area. i would enjoy walking around photographing things too.

Scott said...

Another of the 大稻成 neighborhoods where I've noticed some surprisingly old structures is along 延平北路 (三段,四段). There are even a few of the old, traditional, one-story U-shaped red brick houses left along there.

The 赤峰街 neighborhood between 南京 and 民生, between 承德路 and the MRT line is interesting. Some interesting old red brick residential/commercial 2-story structures there, plain and fuctional, but with a few modestly ornate features here and there. I'm guessing that whole area must have been built up in the 'teens or bit earlier, as it is the same style and materials on almost every lane. Now, most of those buildings appear to be car-stereo installation shops, or else auto-salvage businesses stuffed to the ceiling with mounds of old engines and transmissions. Funny how various neighborhoods in Taiwan become so specialized in certain trades/businesses.

Anonymous said...

Hello Patrick

I'm a Taipei-based writer working on a magazine article about local English-taught university programs. Would it be possible to talk with about your experience?
Thank you.

Hilton
hcpyip@gmail.com