Changjiang Road Shops 長江路商店

A row of abandoned shops at the foot of Huajiang Bridge
An abandoned row of shops at the entrance to Banqiao. These were once repair shops, hair salons, variety stores, and so on.

Last week I cycled across the Huájiāng Bridge 華江橋 to Bǎnqiáo 板橋 to meet a friend for coffee. At the foot of the bridge I couldn’t help but notice the outline of a long-abandoned building of some kind, the sort of place where you’ll find scooter repair shops and other small businesses along any main road in Taiwan. Not having found anything close to a formal name for the place I have simply named it for the street it is on, Chángjiāng Road 長江路.

Around back at the base of Huajiang Bridge
Around back at the abandoned row of shops. Not very pretty, just your run-of-the-mill ruin in urban Taiwan.

Although exceedingly common, I find the location of this abandonment to be somewhat peculiar. Usually the areas around the end of a major bridge in the Taipei metropolitan area is good for business—but something about the design of the offramp of this particular bridge evidently made this building hard to reach. Indeed, there is no real pedestrian traffic passing this way, only scooters zipping by on their way into Bǎnqiáo 板橋.

Strictly no parking
Accessing this building is a piece of cake. The only thing the owners seem interested in prohibiting is free parking.
An inaccessible room
Getting up here might give you a bit of trouble, however. There’s no stairway or ladder to these small rooms.
Gateway to the riverside wilderness
Gateway to the riverside wilderness.

Accessing this complex is a piece of cake. There are numerous entrances all around the back and side of the building. I should warn you, however: at least one squatter has made this place her home. I took care not to disturb her or take photos of her personal effects as she was milling around one of the back rooms, evidently sorting trash or some such thing. Finding homeless people in unsecured ruins is a common thing in most other places but very rare in my extensive experience here in Taiwan.

Abstract art in the ruins of an old row of shops
Abstract art in the ruins of Banqiao.

Figuring out what went wrong here is beyond my ability. Often I am exploring places with formal names and histories, however tenuous, but there’s almost no record of this place on the internet insofar as I can find. The only thing I was able to turn up was this rather informative post on Yahoo Answers of all places. Apparently this block used to contain a hair salon (formally named 皇家貴族理容名店), a pet shop (寵物店, possibly matching a sign out front that reads 新世界水族寵物釣具), lumber store (木材店), and at least one mechanic (機車店).

Dating the abandonment to December 2000
Dating the abandonment to December 2000.
Ascending to the second floor of an abandoned building in Banqia
Ascending to the second floor.

There would have been other businesses in this complex—maybe a love motel and almost certainly a betel nut stand—but it would require more effort than I am willing to undertake to find out what they were. Absolutely everything of value has been taken and most of the interior has been stripped down to bare concrete. Google Street View provides almost nothing in the way of additional information as the place was already abandoned in 2009—which is as far back as records go. And really, it’s not that important. This is the sort of everyday ruin you’ll find all around the country, just another failed business venture, a victim of awkward positioning, economic stagnation, mismanagement, or some combination thereof.

Banqiao from the ruins of an abandoned row of shops
Not much left up here but a view of the surrounding shops.
Traces of a missing staircase
Even the central staircase has been taken out. Only jagged diagonal imprints remain on this level.
Barren emptiness on the third floor
The third floor is completely empty.
A vast open nothingness
A vast, open nothingness.
All that remains of the central stairway
All angles down in the darkness on the ground floor.
Last sight of the interior
Last sight of the interior.
Broken glass on the second floor
These windows shattered long ago.
One last look at an abandoned row of shops in Banqiao
A parting glance at a row of abandoned shops that greet everyone coming over the bridge from Taipei.

One final point worth touching on is this: why write up such a mundane ruin? I blog for many reasons, among them an interest in appreciating the little things in life. If you browse around you’ll find many of my posts are about something completely trivial. In an age of clickbait headlines and socially-optimized content designed to elicit a reaction this may seem like a waste of everyone’s time—but I’m not blogging for traffic or profit. I am simply sharing some of my experiences, not all of which are going to be super interesting. But hey, at least some of the photos from this ruin turned out rather well even if there’s not much of a story to tell in this case.

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