Between the age of 3 and when I moved to Taipei in August 2007, I think I only made a total of three or four trips to Taiwan. The last one was in December 2006 to visit Ron… and the last one before that was in December 1992 for a family reunion on my Dad’s side. During the 14 years in between, my family and I didn’t go to Taiwan because both sets of my grandparents lived in the US or Canada and our other relatives would fly over to see them.
Most of the photos my family took on those long-ago trips were indoor group shots or during visits to landmarks like the Taipei Zoo. Taipei (and the rest of Taiwan) has changed so much over the last three decades that I wish we also had more streetscape photos. My father told me that when he was a teenager, the area at the corner of Shida Rd (師大路) and Heping E Rd (和平東路), where Shida now has dorms and classrooms, was covered with ramshackle dwellings, many of which were either illegal or not built to code. Heping E Rd was also a lot narrower — my maternal grandfather had a paint store that stood in the middle of what is now the street. The East District was planted over with fields, where farmers in raincoats made of rushes harvested vegetables.
A lot of changes also took place during the 1980s and 1990s (and continue to this day, despite Taiwan’s slowing economic development). These two photos of the landmark formerly known as the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂), then formerly known as the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (國立臺灣民主紀念館), and now known again as the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, illustrate some of the changes in Taipei’s appearance (not to mention my family’s). The plaza is paved in concrete, instead of lined with tiles, the plants are just a bunch of small trees in pots and the National Theater (國家戲劇院) and National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳) had yet to be completed. These photos were taken in 1985, as you can tell by the timestamps:
Speaking of the name change, does anyone else have trouble keeping track of what is going on? I personally think that the CKS Memorial Hall should just called the Trysting Spot (幽會中心, yōuhuì zhōngxīn) because the little tree-lined nooks and crannies in the parks are apparently popular make-out spots for local teens. I mean, the place doesn’t reek of young romance to me, but I’m married, so what do I know? Ha!
Anyway, I once came upon a blog entry about the many changes in Taipei’s infrastructure over the past 10 years by someone who has traveled here frequently on business. I’ve lost the link, and if anyone could send it to me I’d appreciate it.