Department of Decay

The grotty facade of an abandoned department store in downtown Taipei.

Today I went to investigate reports of an building on the edge of Xīméndīng 西門町, a busy commercial district in central . It is fairly well-known due to its central location but I could find no easy means of entry for the very same reasons. From this television news report it sounds as if this was originally the Zhōngwài Department Store Company 中外百貨公司 and later the Yángyáng Department Store 洋洋百貨. While it isn’t surprising to find such ruins around much of it is somewhat unusual to see in such a prosperous area. The building is for rent, as I understand it, and much of the aforementioned report seems concerned with the outrageous price tag for such a decaying monstrosity.

Shattered window tessellations.

This department store was not among the more famous of the many malls of Ximending, Taipei’s most vital and important shopping district for much of the 20th century, so I haven’t unearthed much about it. Ordinarily when I scope out a ruin like this I am interested in when it was built, when and why it was abandoned, and what might happen to it in the near-future. In this case I don’t feel as if I am working from reliable source material—Taiwanese media aren’t exactly known for historical accuracy and attention to detail. The only corroborating evidence I’ve turned up is this video from 1972, in which Zhongwai Department Store makes an appearance around the 4:25 mark. Obviously the building has been renovated since then—the ugly windows appear nowhere in the archival footage in either video.

The abandoned department store for context. Ximending’s famous entrance is just off to the right.

I may return at some point to try my hand at lifting the shutter and gaining access to the upper levels but until then—this is all I’ve got on this minor ruin in the bustling heart of . For more about the history of the many malls of Ximending I suggest perusing these Chinese language posts here, here, here.


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