A collapsed roof in Songshan

Songshan Railway Dormitories 松山台鐵宿舍

Sōngshān District 松山區 has long been a major hub for the railway industry in Taiwan. It is home to the Taipei Railway Workshop, a sprawling maintenance depot and rail yard presently undergoing renovations into a full-scale museum. The Western Trunk Line 縱貫線 also runs through the district, although it is completely underground now, following the path of Civic Boulevard 市民大道 for much of its length. I went poking around the area sometime in 2016 and stumbled upon a block of dilapidated homes wedged into a small parcel of land at the tail end of the railway workshop. It turns out these are former railway worker dormitories (sùshè 宿舍) dating back to the Japanese colonial era.

An abandoned residence next to the Taipei Railway Workshop
The ruins of an old residence visible from the street near the Taipei Railway Workshop.
Japanese colonial style residence in Songshan
Most of the old homes aren’t accessible without hopping the wall. I only explored a few of them.
Entering an abandoned home along Civic Boulevard
The insides of most of these houses are made of wood that easily rots in Taipei’s wet and humid subtropical climate.
Looking out on an unplanned garden
Many of these homes have been used to dump garbage.
Dreams of learning English
Someone dreamt of learning English once upon a time.
A dark home filled with debris in Songshan
A dark home filled with debris.
Lord of abandoned spaces
Only non-essential things were left behind.
Peering in through a crack in the foundation
I snapped this photo by extending my camera through a break in the wall at one point, hence the strange mouse-like perspective.
The view through a broken window
The view through a broken window.
No. 4 Civic Boulevard Section 5
Most entrance points have been shuttered with the ubiquitous green corrugated steel barriers you’ll see all over Taiwan.

Taiwan still has hundreds or perhaps even thousands of old Japanese dormitories like these so I didn’t have high hopes they’d be preserved—but as of 2021 it appears this group of dorms will be integrated into ongoing plans to transform the Taipei Railway Workshop into a museum. It doesn’t hurt that this block of homes faces the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park 松山文創園區 and the future Taipei Dome, both of which are (or will be) big attractions in the city.

The far side of a row of abandoned homes on Civic Boulevard
The far side of a row of abandoned homes on Civic Boulevard.
Beneath an overpass in Songshan
The back of the block beneath an overpass.
A letter slot that will open no more
A letter slot that will open no more.
Wood worn and rotten
Wood, worn and rotten.
Remains of a residence in Songshan
Remains of a residence formerly along the railway line in Songshan.
Old wooden house in the process of disintegraton
The back of an old wooden house in the process of disintegration.
A collapsed roof in Songshan
This roof collapsed long ago.
Abandoned automobiles in Songshan
Abandoned vehicles at the back of the block.
An overview of an abandoned block in Songshan
One last glance at an abandoned block of residences in Songshan.

Only one other detail is worth mentioning: from sleuthing around on Google Street View it is clear that these homes were already long-abandoned in 2009. Seven long years of exposure have taken their toll on these old homes, but if the restoration effort follows patterns seen elsewhere, most of these homes will be rebuilt from the foundation.

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