Quán’ān Hall 全安堂 is a century-old building on Taiwan Boulevard 臺灣大道 not far from the old train station in Taichung 台中. Built in 1909 with red brick, reinforced concrete, and a Neo-Baroque style commonly attributed to Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo 辰野金吾 (中文), it was a pharmacy for many decades, and more recently a bakery. A few years ago it was rebranded as the Taiwan Sun Cake Museum 台灣太陽餅博物館, which now operates a gift store on the ground floor and, beneath the exposed wooden beams of the restored rooftop on the second level, a cafe, event space, and interactive museum.
The south side of central Taichung 台中 is undergoing massive changes with the opening of the new Taichung Station. Formerly one of the most rundown parts of urban Taiwan 台灣, it is now the front of the station, and many old and decrepit buildings like this house on Dàyǒng Street 大勇街 are being torn down to make way for lucrative new developments. It is a minor ruin, one for which I have uncovered no specific history, although a little sleuthing around on Google Street View indicates the building was still intact in February 2015 and boasted a simple signboard for a tea shop: 茶點複合式冷飲. Judging by the construction style I would guess this place dates back to the 1960s, give or take a decade. Gathered here are several photos shared more for their aesthetic appeal than intrinsic historic value.
Not much remains of the former Taichū Aerodrome 臺中飛行場, a Japanese colonial era airbase originally built in 1911 on the northwestern periphery of central Taichung 台中. The airbase saw a lot of action in World War II and several kamikaze units were stationed there in the final months of the war. After the arrival of the KMT it was used as a hub for aviation research and development before entering into civilian use in the 1970s as Shuǐnǎn Airport 水湳機場. In 2004 operations were transferred to the nearby Taichung Airport 台中航空站 and, over the following decade, the former Japanese airbase was completely demolished as part of an ongoing city-wide urban renewal plan. The only building spared was a lone gun tower built in 1940, formally designated a historic site in 2006, and officially known as the Former Japanese Army Taichung Aerodrome Gun Tower 原日軍臺中飛行場機槍堡.
Zhōngyīng Recreational Building 中英育樂大樓 is one of many distinctive and iconic ruins in the urban blight surrounding Taichung Station 臺中車站 in central Taichung 台中. It was once a bustling commercial center but it fell into disrepair in the 1990s around the time that a series of fires left a total of seven people dead. With its fortunes in steep decline the building became a haven for the homeless—which is why the upper levels and basement have been sealed off.
Nowadays what residents remain are unusually suspicious of outsiders and, as a result, I haven’t made much progress in gaining access to most of the building the two times I’ve visited. The parts that can be seen are peculiar, to say the least: a concrete path corkscrews up from ground level to the third floor, allowing anyone to drive a scooter directly to their doorstep much like you would in a parking garage.
I will return to document more of what can be seen of this building but for now here’s a photo of the distinctive exterior fronting onto the main street. It is a wonder that this building hasn’t already been condemned and torn down but here is it more than two decades after disaster struck.
Taichung Shark Cemetery 台中鯊魚墳場 (pinyin: Shāyú Fénchǎng) is an unlikely roadside attraction near Donghai University 東海大學 in Xitun 西屯, Taichung 台中. There is no great mystery here—a nearby restaurant and banquet hall by the name of Tong Hai Fish Village 東海漁村 dumped a bunch of junk in this farmer’s field sometime prior to 2009 and since then it has become a popular place for young Taiwanese to visit and take photos. Just have a look at the unofficial Facebook page or the relevant Instagram hashtag and location feeds for plenty of examples.
Pictured here is an outtake from my post about the anti-airborne fortifications on the Dàdù Plateau 大肚台地 in Taichung 台中 (follow that link for the whole story). In short, this is a KMT authoritarian era military fortification designed to repel a communist invasion that never came. As with all but one of the other six forts in the area it was abandoned at some unknown point in the past. Now it stands silent and forlorn, overlooking the coastal plains and the urban sprawl that surrounds the Port of Taichung 台中港.
Today I climbed to the top of the Qiānyuè Building 千越大樓, an infamous ruin within sight of the central train station in Taichung 台中. I was up there to get a view of the mountains to the east—and perhaps a glimpse of the oncoming storm—but the horizon was a blur. Instead I turned my lens to a pool of rainwater, capturing a reflection of the “UFO” on top of the building. This was actually a rotating karaoke bar before it almost burned down years ago. I wonder how it’ll fare in when Typhoon Nepartak arrives later tonight?
Recently I have undertaken several expeditions to Jiànguó Public Market 建國市場 in Taichung 台中, formerly the largest traditional market in Taiwan 台灣. As part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the area around Taichung Station 台中車站 the market building is scheduled for demolition in a few months time. Many residents have already been evicted and plenty of businesses have moved to a new market building on the other side of the railway line. I will at some point publish a full post about this doomed relic of the KMT authoritarian era—but for now here’s an abstract shot from within the very heart of the old market building oddly reminiscent of another another famous ruin in Taichung.
Last year I shared a photo from outside Tiānwàitiān Theater 天外天劇場, alluding to the possibility of gaining entrance at some future date. I have since been inside and will be posting a full exploration sooner or later. In the meantime, here’s a quick greyscale preview of the distinctive radial rooftop reflected in rainwater.
Shuǐnǎn Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓 is a historic Japanese colonial era building located in Beitun 北屯, Taichung 台中. It is an Osaka-style tobacco barn much like these more famous examples from Meinong 美濃. Nobody seems to know for sure when it was built, though this article claims it is a century old. Without better information I would say the 1930s are a safe bet—that’s when tobacco cultivation was spreading all over central and south Taiwan 台灣—but it might be older than that.