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FYI SOUTH Magazine, February 2007.

Jhongdu Tangrong Brick-Kiln Park

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.



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