Songshan Railway Residences 松山台鐵宿舍

An abandoned residence next to the Taipei Railway Workshop
The ruins of an old residence visible from the street near the Taipei Railway Workshop.

Sōngshān District 松山區 has long been a major hub for the railway industry in Taiwan. It is the location of the massive Taipei Railway Workshop complex, now closed but not completely abandoned, as the city government is planning to transform it into an attraction of some kind. I went poking around the area a few weeks ago and found no obvious way inside without being seen—but I did find a number of decaying old residences all in a row along Civic Boulevard Section 5 市民大道五段, not far from the western entrance to the rail yard. Although I haven’t found anything about them online I suspect they are Japanese colonial era homes for railway workers or officials, usually referred to as Táitiě Sùshè 台鐵宿舍, or TRA residences.

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
The cramped courtyards of most of these homes have been used to dump garbage.
Dreams of learning English
Someone dreamt of learning English once upon a time. That title is a bit funny, don’t you think? 貿易英語聽力專集 is the Chinese in case anyone wants to pursue this further.
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.

These certainly aren’t the most interesting kind of ruins one will encounter in Taiwan, nor is this exploration particularly comprehensive, but they can’t all be winners. I am not even certain these are railway worker residences, though they certainly look like others you will find in Taipei 台北, particularly those around Taipei Main Station. While searching for more information I found several news stories pertaining to corrupt landlords in much newer buildings for railway workers, something that makes finding out about these old homes much more difficult. Then again, these are really minor ruins, and there are hundreds more like these all up and down the island. There’s a good chance nobody saw fit to properly document them until now.

The far side of a row of abandoned homes on Civic Boulevard
The far side of a row of abandoned homes on Civic Boulevard.

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.

Beneath an overpass in Songshan
The back of the block beneath an overpass.

I returned to these abandoned residences more recently, this time to skulk around the back of the block. Last time I was there a bunch of dogs stalked through the open area that must have once been lined with tracks. I crept through the gate facing the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park 松山文創園區 for a closer look at the side of the neighbourhood that would have once backed out onto the railway line.

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.

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