Recently I have gotten somewhat more serious about documenting ghost buildings, the faint traces of structures that once were. I found this particular example on Rén’ài Street 仁愛街 not far from the Hsinchu State Office 新竹州廳 (sometimes called the Hsinchu Municipal Government Hall) in Hsinchu City 新竹市. Google Street View reveals that this tiny space has been used for parking since at least 2009—but at some point someone must have made a life here in the spaces between.
Taking a step across the steel chain barrier one will find an old window still looking out on a patch of greenery in the interstices of the surrounding buildings. Off to the right is a curious sign written in red paint on a white background: wù pāizhào 勿拍照 (no photos), and lùyǐng zhōng 錄影中 (essentially “smile, you’re on camera”). Why on earth would anyone prohibit photography of this completely ordinary place? Was this popular with the cosplay crowd at some point? Somewhat more mysteriously, the white rectangle has been around as long as Google’s records go back but the characters were painted after 2013. Presumably I’m not the only one whose eye was drawn to this oddly elegant gap in the urban fabric of downtown Hsinchu 新竹.