Secret Escape Route

A Nameless Community in Xinyi District

Xìnyì District 信義區 is among the richest and most expensive parts of Taiwan but it hasn’t always been this way. Decades ago it was sparsely settled and far more industrialized, particularly around Wúxìng Street 吳興街, where I lived for several years in the late 2010s. This part of the city was once anchored by an immense army maintenance depot previously mentioned in this post, but the entire complex was demolished in the early 2010s, replaced by parking lots, basketball courts, and wide open fields. The former depot was surrounded by several military villages, all of which were also dismantled apart from the grim concrete apartment blocks of Wúxìng New Village 吳興新村 and, somewhat further north, the restored and revitalized #44 South Village 四四南村 across from Taipei 101.

Until recently there was also a cluster of what were probably illegal houses on the southern periphery of the former army depot. Nestled into a tiny patch of land next to the mountains and jutting into the factory grounds, this community was demolished in early 2017, but not before I made several visits to document its disappearance. There is nothing particularly noteworthy or unusual about this small community—and indeed, I can find no information about it whatsoever. This post serves only to document a nameless, unremarkable place, one of thousands disappearing into memory all across Taiwan.

A Vanished Community
A cluster of ruins within sight of Taipei 101, now vanished.
Scouring the Ruins of a Vanished Community in Xinyi District
Makeshift ruins in the process of decay, weathered by the passage of typhoons and other inclement weather.
Sifting Through the Wreckage in Xinyi District
Sifting through the wreckage of an anonymous community at the back end of Xinyi District.

The photos in this post were captured on multiple occasions, often while I was biking to work some morning or another, and with a variety of different cameras. It was interesting to observe the passage of the seasons from within the tight confines of the passages leading to each home. I also returned after typhoons to see what mayhem had been wrought by the storm, often to discover another makeshift add-on torn to splinters and strewn across the laneway. Others held up fairly well, showing no damage, the personal possessions left behind still resting where their owners had last set them down before leaving forever. It was interesting to consider why some objects weren’t taken, particularly photographs and journals, some of which belied an interest in learning English.

Passages Through an Abandoned Village in Xinyi District
Getting lost in purgatory.
Blue and Red Tones
A small number of structures were spared the wrecking ball. This may have been one of them.

Not all structures in this post were destroyed. There was one big house at the back of the community that seems to have been legal, as well as a wooden shed concealed by the jumble of other buildings that had been thrown together. I suppose that big house ultimately explains why the factory walls jog to the north at this particular location. While the other buildings had been evicted as of the last day of 2015 the big house was still occupied anytime I swung by to explore the smaller houses out front.

Stripes Liven up the Scene
A few personal touches on an otherwise drab exterior make all the difference.
Teal Dragon Door
A teal dragon on one door…
Teal Phoenix Door
…and a teal phoenix on the other.
Down Alley 201
A vanished laneway.
Reflections in the Ruins
Reflections in the ruins.
Empty Homes in a Condemned Community
A splash of colour in the ruins.
Slow Motion 2014
Slow time travel circa 2014.
Stepping Inside an Abandoned Home
Stepping inside one of many abandoned homes.
Dreaming of Winter
Dreaming of winter in a room without air conditioning.
May You Welcome Happiness With the Spring 2012
May you welcome happiness.
Trip to the Anglosphere
A trip to the Anglosphere.
Living Room Shrine
A shrine in the living room of an abandoned house.
A Studious Bedroom
An empty bedroom with some intriguing decorative choices.
Door God Discarded
Discarded god.
Time Waits For No Man
Time is up, time is down.
Fruit Calendar Room
A room lined with fruit calendars.
White Radish and Horns
How could anyone forget this?
Hairstyles of Yesteryear
Hairstyles of yesteryear.
Appearances Are Deceptive
Appearances are deceptive.
Miss You, Left Behind
Missing you, but not enough.
Sun Hats
Fancy hat collection.
Secret Escape Route
The view from just outside the old community. That’s the factory wall in front, and I suppose that ladder may have acted as something like a fire escape.
An Abandoned Community in Context
The abandoned community in context. The open field is where the army maintenance factory used to be.

For reference, these homes were formerly located at Xìn’ān Street, Alley 103, Lane 201 信安街103巷201弄. There’s nothing to see there now except for a sprawling construction site. Apparently this area will become a big city park one day soon…