Revival of Beimen Leads Historic Site Preservation – 2163期

    With the demolition of the Zhongxiao Bridge Ramp, the North Gate, located under the bridge, ended its 39-year-long “imprisonment” and came back to people’s attention.

The History of Beimen

    In fact, when the designer designed Beimen, its location was not just north but northwest. It is because when the builder, Ao Liou(劉璈), was building this gate, he referred to Ken Yu(堪輿), a Chinese Feng Shui, so he decided to make North Gate face to Qixingshan(七星山).

    North Gate was a significant transportation hub at that time, not only because it was a crucial military defense site, but it connected the city with Talungtung(大龍峒), Shihlin(士林), Tamsui(淡水), and the prosperous region, Dadaocheng(大稻埕). Therefore, North Gate and its neighborhood were very flourishing at that time. However, the advancement of North Gate had not yet end. When Japanese government came, they decided to reconstruct the neighboring area of North Gate. They built roads we now called “San-Sian Road”(三線路), which meant “three roads” in Chinese.

How Did Beimen Revive

    In Qing Dynasty, Guangxu(清朝光緒) 10 years (1884), North Pprefectural City(北府城)was officially completed between Monga(艋胛 )and Tataocheng. Beimen(北門)is one of the five city gates , and also the main one. Based on the fact that Beimen is located near the mouth of Tamsui river(淡水河口), its main function is to defense. Because of disrepair and neglect, the other four gates were severely damaged. They were rebuilt, but lost the original exterior. At that time, Beimen was to be demolished, but the scholars tried to obtain, so that Beimen can preserve its original form.

    Researcher of Taiwan history, Professor Cheng-Yu-Feng(程玉鳳)said that, before the Approach Bridge (忠孝橋引橋)was built, she always went to appreciate the Beimen . But after the Approach Bridge construction completed, Beimen was blocked, no one can get close to Beimen .Beimen is the first class historical sites, so blocking off Beimen will lose the historical value.

    However, the Approach Bridge was just removed, its main function disappeared. For Taipei City, Beimen is located in the center, so it is of course important to Taipei. And being able to reproduce the Beimen is absolutely a good and meaningful thing. Certainly we hope to beautify the surrounding of Beimen, which would also attract primary school teachers and students to visit, and the descendants can understand the historical significance, review the entire developing process of Taipei City, and once again to appreciate the elegance of Beimen.

Debates on The Preservation Plan

     Mitsui Warehouse (三井物產株式會社舊倉庫)is a century-old building which had been preserved since Japanese Occupation, located at the intersection of Zhongxiao Road and Yanping North Road. Till now, Mitsui Warehouse is the only one that still retains the original diamond logo of the Mitsui company. Although Mitsui Warehouse looks unobtrusive, there are lots of historical stories to tell.

    However, ever since Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je(柯文哲)took the North Gate proposal, Approach Bridge (忠孝橋引橋) was successfully torn down within 5 days. At the same time, this plan brought about a change of Mitsui Warehouse. It was moved to 70 meters east. As the result, many cultural heritage supporters argued that how can we rebuild the “new historical building” in a “different address”? On the contrary, a resident who lives near Mitsui Warehouse, Chih-hung Chen(陳治宏)has a different point of view, “Everyday when I wake up, I can directly see Mitsui Warehouse that you call it cultural heritage. But I can’t see any value of it. In front of the entrance, no boards, no reconstructions, but vagrants. Maybe passersby can’t even recognize it as a historical sight. So I agree with the project of migration.”

    Up to the present, a brand-new North Gate was built, but lots of fierce debates on the monument preservation are going on.