Chinatown, a mall in Tainan long past its glory days

Tainan Chinatown 臺南中國城

Tainan Chinatown 臺南中國城 is a half-abandoned and soon to be demolished shopping mall and entertainment complex in Tainan City 台南市. Built in 1983, it was designed by C.Y. Lee, a famous architect who later directed the construction of 85 Sky Tower and Taipei 101. I went by to shoot a few photos with some friends one sunny afternoon in January 2014 so I figure I may as well share them here.

Chinatown, Tainan
This is Chinatown, a half-abandoned shopping and entertainment complex in Tainan.
Chinatown, a mall in Tainan long past its glory days
A few vendors still ply their trade in the entrance of the old mall.
One of the few remaining shops open at street level in Chinatown
The only businesses that remain seem rather unsavory.

This place was really happening during the boom times of the Taiwan Miracle but nowadays it is in the final stages of decay, much like the Golden Empire 黃金帝國 building in Yuánlín 員林. Apparently the karaoke bars and down-market clothing shops that remain are holding out for greater compensation from the local government. Were it not for that the place would no doubt be completely abandoned.

Inside a crusty old mall in Tainan
All the shops inside the mall are shuttered.

Oddly enough we also noticed a few people living in some of the old shops. Cheap rent, I guess?

B-52
The sign for what I would assume was an old karaoke bar or clothing shop of some kind.
This is Chinatown
The other side of Chinatown, a derelict mall in Tainan.

We took a stroll downstairs, shot a few photographs, and were soon chased out by an irate karaoke hostess. This wouldn’t be unusual anywhere else—but in Taiwan? Highly suspicious and out of character. There wasn’t even really anyone down there apart from a few old men, half-asleep and murmuring into microphones.

Downstairs at Chinatown in Tainan
Downstairs at Chinatown in karaoke heaven.
Karaoke is alive and well at Chinatown
Karaoke is alive and well at Chinatown.
In the bowels of Chinatown
Deep inside the bowels of Chinatown, a derelict mall in Tainan.

More info and photos are available in Chinese here, here, here, and maybe here.

The Remains of Chinatown
All that remains of Chinatown as of 2017.

Previously I mentioned that you’ll have to act fast if you’d like to see this hulking relic of a bygone era—and now it’s gone forever. The last photograph in this piece was shot in 2017. It depicts the former entrance; you can even line it up with one of the photos from 2014. The stairway was covered with a metal panel to seal access to the underground. Finally, here are some plans for the new development that were circulating in the media several years ago. Only time will tell what this place turns into.

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown…”