The Second Air Force New Village (二空新村) is a former military dependents’ village in Tainan, Taiwan. It was established east of Tainan Airbase in 1950, primarily for members of the Republic of China Air Force and their families, and it eventually grew to become the sixth most populous of the official military villages in Taiwan. From 1950 into the 1960s several waves of construction and development increased the village to nearly 1,000 households, with a sizable number of unregistered structures scattered around the periphery. As with most other military villages this one was steadily dismantled and demolished over the course of many years in the late 2000s and early 2010s, part of a nationwide urban renewal program that relocated the remaining residents into more modern apartment blocks.
Anything to do with bricks as a building material.
Postcards From Linnei 林內明信片
Linnei is a small rural township located on the south side of the Zhuoshui River in northeastern Yunlin, Taiwan. Despite its strategic position on the Western Trunk Line this township remains mostly pastoral and undeveloped, with little industrial activity compared to neighboring Douliu, the administrative seat of the county. Population in the township peaked at nearly 23,000 in the 1970s and has been declining ever since, recently falling below 18,000 as rural flight continues apace. Nowadays the local economy mostly revolves around agricultural products such as rice, bamboo, and tea, but Linnei was once a major center of tobacco cultivation, traces of which can be found scattered across the countryside.
Kouhu Theater 口湖戲院
The overgrown ruins of Kouhu Theater (口湖戲院) can be found along a dusty country road on the outskirts of Kouhu, a desolate town in coastal Yunlin, at the westernmost extent of the Taiwanese mainland. Its most distinct feature is the exposed red brick facade, which might be unique among those vintage theaters still standing in earthquake-prone Taiwan. Not much is written about this old theater online, possibly due to its obscure location in the remote countryside, but it dates back to the early 1950s and likely remained in operation into the early 1980s.
Linkou Shengtai Brick Kiln 林口勝泰磚窯
Linkou, now the fastest-growing suburban district in the greater Taipei area, was once home to more than 30 brick factories, the highest concentration in northern Taiwan. Shengtai Brick Kiln (勝泰磚窯), at the far northern extent of the Linkou Plateau, is one of the last remnants of this once-flourishing brick-making industry. Numerous ruins can be found across the sprawling site but the most impressive is a Hoffmann kiln, easily identified by its broken chimney. Hoffmann kiln technology was introduced to Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era but this particular kiln only dates back to the mid-1960s, and it has now been abandoned for many decades.
Keelung Dahua Theater 基隆大華戲院
Dahua Theater 大華戲院 is an early post-war movie theater in the grim northern port town of Keelung City, Taiwan. It was in business as early as 1949 and officially registered by 1952. Beyond that, little trace of it can be found online. Until recently I assumed this theater had been demolished, just like every other vintage standalone in downtown Keelung, one of the most densely-packed urban environments in the nation. Acting on a tip that a signboard was still in place I went to scope it out one afternoon in 2018—and was completely surprised to find the theater still standing, albeit in an extremely dilapidated condition.
Dongping Tobacco Barn 東平菸樓
Only traces remain of the tobacco cultivation and manufacturing industry in Taichung, Taiwan. For the better part of a century tobacco was cultivated across wide swathes of the Taichung Basin 台中盆地, cured on location, sold at regional marketplaces, and shipped to factories for further processing into cigarettes and other tobacco products. Taiwan’s accession to the WTO in 2002 marked the end of domestic tobacco production but the industry was already in steep decline, a consequence of globalization and the end of the government monopoly system in preceding decades. Several buildings related to Taichung’s tobacco industry have earned heritage status in recent years—but this decaying tobacco barn hidden down an laneway in Taiping, a suburban district on the eastern side of the burgeoning metropolis, is not among them.
Jiuqiong Village Tobacco Barn 九芎村菸樓
What little remains of the historic tobacco industry in central Taiwan is disappearing fast. Tobacco cultivation was big business for much of the 20th century but went into sharp decline in the 1980s and essentially ended with globalization and Taiwan’s accession to the WTO. Robust preservation efforts in southern and eastern Taiwan ensure something of this industry will remain for future generations but the situation in the former tobacco cultivation areas of Taichung, Changhua, and Yunlin is far more ambiguous, and documentation of what cultural assets remain is sparse or nonexistent. For this reason I’ve made an effort to record tobacco barns anytime I encounter them in my travels—as I did while driving through Jiuqiong Village 九芎村 on the south side of Linnei in Yunlin earlier this summer.
Shuangxikou Brick Kiln 雙溪口磚窯
Recently I wrote about the Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯, an obscure abandonment in rural Chiayi, Taiwan. While attempting to find out more about that kiln I found a reference to a second abandoned kiln in the area, the Shuangxikou Brick Kiln 雙溪口磚窯, informally named after the closest village in neighboring Puzi. Weeks after visiting the first kiln I returned to scope out the second and—insofar as I can tell—only other remaining brick kiln in this expanse of the Chianan Plain 嘉南平原. It was a hazy, grey day out there so these photos aren’t nearly as nice as those of the other kiln, but in the interest of adding a little something to the historic record I’m sharing them here anyway.
Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯
Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯 was an unexpected discovery while riding from Beigang to Puzi earlier this summer. The chimney is plainly visible from the roadside and the crumbling bulk of the kiln can be discerned in a gap between the row of houses out front. Stopping to take a closer look I went around (and through) the old kiln to document what remains. Liujiao is a rather obscure part of rural Chiayi so I’ve not found any mention of this place online apart from this brief post. Whereas several kilns in various other parts of Taiwan are being preserved this obscure ruin is almost certainly never going to be the object of a conservation effort.
Shuangxi Donghe Theater 雙溪東和戲院
Donghe Theater 東和戲院 is an obscure ruin in Shuangxi, a former mining town of approximately 8,000 residents in the mountains of eastern New Taipei. Despite its diminutive size and relatively remote location, Shuangxi has a colorful history extending back to the late Qing dynasty era. Its prime location at the confluence of Mudan Creek and the eponymous Shuang River made it an ideal transshipment point for people and goods traveling to and from Ruifang. The surrounding hills also contained rich deposits of gold and coal deposits, sparking a mining boom that peaked in the mid-20th century with dozens of mines and more than 30,000 miners in the area. Two theaters were in business in the 1950s, but the local entertainment industries declined along with the mining industry, and only the ruins of Donghe Theater remain to provide a glimpse into the past. Although it isn’t formally protected, the site has been tidied up and anyone is welcome to wander in and take a look.