By John Matthews Translated by Annie Liu
220, JhongHuaHeng Rd., SanMin District,
Kaohsiung City (on the corner of JhongHuaHeng Rd. and
TongMeng 3rd Rd.)
Where else but in Kaohsiung can the
site of an old brick-kiln factory be made into a park?
On the corner of TongMeng 3rd Road and JhongHuaHeng
Road, just north of the train tracks, lies a small testament
to this city's numerous revitalization projects. This
park, an unusual reminder from the heyday of manufacturing
and industry, is also a reminder of what can be possible
if people work together toward a common goal. If a country
like Taiwan can reverse the effects of years of environmental
desecration, than perhaps one day the whole world can
do the same.
It's a lofty thought. However, visit
this park on a typical day this spring and you will
see well-kept green grass, tall trees, flower beds and
birds singing. This is where, at one time not more than
60 years ago, the belch of toxic smoke rising from two
massive chimneys and the ash from burning ceramic was
all that you could see. At night, the chimneys now are
lit up by lights situated at the bases of these rising
columns. There is a viewing point and a large wooden
boardwalk that surrounds at least half of the site,
with sign posts taking the viewer around on a guided
historical tour (mostly in Chinese).
On a large stainless steel tablet,
mounted onto a brick monument next to the park, is the
story behind this once busy brick and tile factory.
The factory originally began under Japanese ownership
back in 1899. It changed hands in 1913 and began to
manufacture bricks and tiles competitively, with production
and quality increasing daily. Since 1992, however, the
site has remained idle and virtually unoccupied. In
March 2004, the Committee of Historical Heritages designated
the old Jhongdu Tangrong Brick-Kiln site as a National
Historic Relic. Look out out for festivals and events
at this unusual location in the near future.