Tainan Chinatown 臺南中國城 is a half-abandoned and soon to be demolished shopping mall and entertainment complex in Tainan City 台南市. Built in 1983, it was designed by C.Y. Lee, a famous architect who later directed the construction of 85 Sky Tower and Taipei 101. I went by to shoot a few photos with some friends one sunny afternoon in January 2014 so I figure I may as well share them here.
This place was really happening during the boom times of the Taiwan Miracle but nowadays it is in the final stages of decay, much like the Golden Empire Building 黃金帝國大樓 in Yuánlín 員林. Apparently the karaoke bars and down-market clothing shops that remain are holding out for greater compensation from the local government. Were it not for that the place would no doubt be completely abandoned.
Oddly enough we also noticed a few people living in some of the old shops. Cheap rent, I guess?
We took a stroll downstairs, shot a few photographs, and were soon chased out by an irate karaoke hostess. This wouldn’t be unusual anywhere else—but in Taiwan? Highly suspicious and out of character. There wasn’t even really anyone down there apart from a few old men, half-asleep and murmuring into microphones.
Previously I mentioned that you’ll have to act fast if you’d like to see this hulking relic of a bygone era—and now it’s gone forever. The last photograph in this piece was shot in 2017. It depicts the former entrance; you can even line it up with one of the photos from 2014. The stairway was covered with a metal panel to seal access to the underground. Finally, here are some plans for the new development that were circulating in the media several years ago. Only time will tell what this place turns into.
“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown…”