1993 / 11月
Chan Chao-yang /photos courtesy of Chan Chao-yang /tr. by Robert Taylor
Ever since the time of the Japanese occupation, the "Planned Site for Park No. 7," an area of some 26 hectares enclosed by Taipei City's Hsinyi Road, Chienkuo South Road, Hoping East Road and Hsinsheng South Road, has been designated as the site for a new public park. For 40 years around 2000 families, most of them military veterans who came with the government when it moved from the mainland to Taiwan, lived a thoroughly spartan existence here in old-style single-storey houses. As Taipei became more prosperous and modern, though living in the center of this large city they became "marginalized." When the municipal government began to demolish the buildings on the site in order to create the park, the residents, dissatisfied with the provisions for their relocation, rose up in protest, making the news for a while. But Taipei urgently needs its "woodland park," and its construction could not be held back. The controversy over resettlement finally subsided, the houses were cleared away and planting of the new green space began. The life here of 2000 families, with all its joys and sorrows, formally passed into history.
About the photographer: Chan Chao-yang
Born 1996 in Yunlin County. Taiwan Province Now a photojournalist at Taiwan Weekly.
The site designated for Park No. 7 was Taipei City's biggest area of illegal housing. 2000 families lived here in a maze of one-storey houses, seemingly worlds away from the crowded skyscrapers on the other side of the Chienkuo Road elevated highway.
In the late afternoon, an old man sits lazily in a corner of the square, enjoying the light of the setting sun in the cool shade of the trees.
With no children at his knee and no grandchildren playing by his side, the lonely old man has only his pet for company. Only when he speaks to his bird does a smile brighten his weathered face .
A relaxed game of chess in the quiet of the twisting alleyways. The sudden click of the shutter breaks in as the game nears its conclusion.
With his house soon to be torn down, an old man with nowhere else to go sits listlessly outside, wondering where he will lay his head tomorrow.
I saw him in front of the Kuanyin statue in the bamboo grove in the Park No. 7 site. Handing me an ancient camera he asked me to take his picture as he struck a flamboyant pose.
To protect the broken-down house which he calls home, this old man took to the streets to angrily shout injustice!
The clattering excavators quickly reduce the International House, its days of glory over, to a heap of twisted rubble. Behind the barrier, can people see how it feels in its last moments?
As the demolition workers busily get on with their task, an old man with a bottle of rice wine in his hand quietly joins the onlookers. Does his expression betray sadness or pleasure?
In just a few short months the homes and gardens have disappeared, and the brand new park, as yet unnamed, will soon take shape. When its gates are opened to the public, how many people will still remember the story of what happened here?