The entrance to the abandoned Jiangling New Village

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村

Jiānglíng New Village (江陵新村) was one of more than 800 military dependents’ village in Taiwan before its ultimate destruction in mid-2015. It was formerly located not far from the confluence of Jingmei River (景美溪) and Xindian River (新店溪) just outside Taipei city limits in the northern part of Xindian. Immediately to the south is an active military base of some kind—and the historic Jingmei Prison can be found on the opposite side of the nearest major intersection.

The entrance to the abandoned Jiangling New Village
The entrance to the abandoned Jiangling New Village in Xindian.
Rows of homes inside Jiangling New Village
Into the rewilding lands beyond the busy city streets.

Lucky door #13
Lucky door #13.
Onto the second floor at Jiangling New Village
Up the stairs to the next level.

Playground of the elements
Playground of the elements. Anything left behind is subject to the forces of nature.

The abandonment of Jiangling New Village is part of a massive urban renewal effort sweeping across the nation. Hundreds of these old military communities have been forcibly depopulated and destroyed to make way for more modern developments, a process that has not been without controversy. Residents of these communities, some of whom have spent almost their entire lives in these homes, don’t always want to leave, as was the case with the famous Rainbow Grandpa of Taichung. There are also issues with the compensation paid to former residents, particularly since corporations like Farglory Group (遠雄集團)—the same developer presently embroiled in the Taipei Dome fiasco—typically make huge profits when redeveloping military villages like this one. Many military villages have seen clashes between civic activists, police, and the workers charged with destroying homes, but Jiangling New Village appears to have vanished into the pages of history without much of a fight.

Leftover toys inside Jiangling New Village
Leftover toys litter the ground on this covered deck.
Forgotten shrine inside Jiangling New Village
A forgotten shrine inside a home in the old military community. That looks to be an ancestor tablet on the shelf—an important object of veneration in Taiwanese culture. Is this now part of the rubble field?

I chanced upon Jiangling New Village in March 2014 while cycling around the area, which wasn’t far from where I was living. At that time I knew little of the history of military dependents’ villages and, to be perfectly honest, probably didn’t even know what I had found as my nascent Chinese language abilities weren’t up to the task of reading the characters on the front gate.

Where fools tread
Where fools tread.

As a novice explorer I was mostly interested in documenting ruins wherever I found them—and only more recently have I begun to really understand something about the places I’ve been. This understanding comes too late for me to return to Jiangling New Village and capture more imagery from a more informed perspective. All that remains of these homes is a field of broken rubble behind a corrugated metal fence… and these fading photographs.

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