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History

Taipei's History and Development

1. The Origin of the Name – Taipei
The name “Taipei” first emerged at the end of Emperor Kangxi’s rule and the early years of Emperor Yongzheng’s reign. Lan Ding-yuan’s Zhuqianpu Journal said as much: “Zhuqianpu stretched hundreds of kilometers; no one was seen during a whole day’s traveling. Barbarians haunted the place, and travelers were fearful when passing through the region. However, the fortress was built on the path of freshwater, the land was flat and extremely fertile, should it be ploughed, there would be thousands of hectares of productive fields. Taipei promises a prosperous outlook for people’s livelihood.” This area referred to as “Taipei” was the area north of Zhuqian in Northern Taiwan.
In 1875, first year of the Guangxu reign, Imperial Commissioner Shen Bao-zhen established the Taipei Prefecture in Mengjia (a general term used for Taipei’s main municipality at the time), and built the Taipei Prefecture Office (located in today's Zhongzheng District), making Taipei an administrative district. In 1884, the 10th year of Emperor Guangxu, the construction of a walled city was completed.
THD_picture 1After Taiwan became a province of China, the first Governor Liu Ming-chuan immediately set up his office in the Taipei Prefecture, where development revolved around the inner city and Dadaocheng. These two areas, together with Mengjia, later became the heart of the city and were called the “Three Market Streets.”
During the Japanese Colonial Period, Sotokufu (the Governor-General House) declared municipal organization for Taiwan. In 1920, based on the Organization Statute, Taipei was made a Prefecture City and the Taipei Municipal Office was founded. The name “Taipei City” thus officially emerged.
2. Ketagalan Tribe’s Inhabitation
Taipei City is situated in the center of the Taipei Basin in Northern Taiwan. According to geological estimation, the Taipei Basin was a large lake in ancient times; and after years of sedimentation, it then developed into a basin. In Yu Yong-he’s Great Sea Journal, he wrote: “Upon entering Guandu Notch, it suddenly widened up into a boundless yet infinitely large lake that stretches more than ten kilometers which is surrounded by high mountains; the whole area covered more than a hundred kilometers, and there was a plain in the center.” It was the Taipei Basin that Yu was referring to. Before the Han Chinese arrived, the Taipei Basin used to be the home of the aboriginal Ketagalan Tribe, who made a living by gathering, fishing, hunting, and nomadic cultivation.
The Ketagalan were among one of the first Pingpu tribespeople to inhabit Northern Taiwan, living in areas as far as the present-day Taoyuan in the south and Sandiaoling and Yilan in the north, spreading throughout the present-day areas of Keelung, Tamsui and Taipei. According to the Japanese scholar Kanori Ino, the Ketagalan settlement in Sandiaoling was established near the western seashore, via Keelung, Jinbaoli, Fuguijiao, Huwei, following along the Keelung River into the Taipei Basin; those who settled in the Xizhi district were known as Fengzisi Community; those who inhabited the Songshan district formed Xikou Community; those who settled down in Dadaocheng formed Guibeng Community, and those in Dalongtong, Dalangbeng Community; some also crossed the Xindian River to form the Baijie and Xiulang Communities. They were the earliest documented inhabitants in the Taipei Basin.
THD_picture 43. From the Dutch to the Spanish to Koxinga in the Ming Dynasty
In the 16th century, junk boats sailed along the coast of Mainland China and Taiwan, and boatmen engaged in trading and fishing in the Keelung and Tamsui regions. In 1622, the Dutch invaded Dayuan (now Anping, Tainan). In 1626, the Spanish occupied Keelung and Tamsui, built fortresses and commenced missionary and commercial activities. In 1642, the Dutch moved north and expelled the Spanish, taking over their forts in Keelung and Tamsui, and began to carry out missionary work and trade. In 1661, Koxinga (Zheng Cheng-gong) landed at Luermen, besieged Fort Zeelandia, expelled the Dutch and reclaimed Taiwan. In the following year, the Dutch were ousted, and Zheng officially made Taiwan his base and set up the Chengtian Prefecture; Wannian and Tianxing counties were set up; Taipei belonged to Tianxing County at that time. Koxinga dispatched the renowned General Huang-an to oversee Tamsui and implemented a land development system later on. Troops were stationed along the Tamsui River to plough areas between present-day Guandu and Beitou. Even now, historic relics can still be spotted in these places.
4. Development During the Qing Dynasty
In the 22nd year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign (1683) of the Qing dynasty, Taiwan was reclaimed as part of the Qing territory. The following year, Taiwan Prefecture was established. Zhuluo, Taiwan and Fenshan counties were thus set up. Since then, immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong province increased in large numbers. In the 48th year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign (1709), after Chen Lai-zhang asked for governmental permission to settle in the Dajiala area (today’s Mengjia, Xinzhuang and Dalongdong areas), more and more Han Chinese moved to Northern Taiwan. During the Qianlong period, starting with Sweet Potato Street (named from to the trading of sweet potatoes between Han settlers and aboriginal people) in Mengjia, where the Xindian and Tamsui Rivers meet, Taipei began to develop into a political, military and business center. During Emperor Jiaqing’s reign, the saying “Tainan first, Lugang second, Mengjia third” heralded Mengjia as the third largest harbor city in Taiwan. During Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1862-1874), Dadaocheng thrived due to the tea trade, as Taipei tea became famous in the international market. In the 10th year of Emperor Guangxu (1884), Taipei was made a city, and in Guangxu’s 13th year (1887), Taiwan was officially designated a province. The first governor was Liu Ming-chuan, and during his term in Taipei, he planned and constructed Taipei City; railways, streets/roads and schools were built. Taipei’s walled city was devised as the administrative district, while Dadaocheng was developed into a business district. The present-day Guide Street area was planned as a foreigners’ community. Such city planning laid down a sound development foundation for Taipei City.
THD_picture 25. The Japanese Colonial Period
After Japan occupied Taiwan in 1895, or the 21st year of the Guangxu period, the Taiwan Sotokufu (Governor-General House) was established in Taipei City. Between 1899 and 1901, or the 32nd and 34th years of the Meiji Period, the Japanese expanded the streets in Taipei City and improved drainage. In the 38th year of the Meiji (1905), Japanese colonists demolished the Taipei City walls built during the late Qing dynasty, and built roads along the foundation of the original walls, connecting Mengjia, the Inner City and Dadaocheng and expanding the overall administrative area of Taipei. In 1920, or the 9th year of the Dazheng period, Taipei State Governed City was established, its administrative district extended beyond the aforementioned three districts to today’s Daan, Zhonglun and Songshan in East Taipei.
6. Development Boom After of Taiwan Retrocession
Upon retrocession in 1945, Taipei was designated a provincial city. In October of the same year, the Japanese administrative system was abolished, and the city government was instituted. Under the new system, 10 administrative districts were put in place, in which borough was set under district, and neighborhood under borough. In 1949, the Central Government relocated to Taiwan, and in 1950, local self-government was implemented at the county and city level; for the first time, Taipei City elected its city councilmen, and the city council was founded, setting the groundwork for democracy. On December 31, 1966, in view of Taipei being the temporary wartime capital as well as the political, military, cultural and economical center of Taiwan, the president announced Taipei as a directly-controlled municipality in July 1967. A year after, on July 1, 1968, Jingmei, Muzha, Nangang, Neihu, Shilin and Beitou townships were incorporated as a part of Taipei, giving Taipei City a total of 16 administrative districts.
On March 12, 1990, readjustments were made to Taipei’s administrative districts; 12 districts were redrawn, namely Datong, Zhongzheng, Wanhua, Zhongshan, Shilin, Beitou, Songshan, Nangang, Neihu, Xinyi, Daan, and Wenshan. They have remained effective until today.
Although Taipei City and New Taipei City, which was reorganized as a direct-controlled municipality on December 25, 2010 and renamed New Taipei City, are two separate administrative bodies in the Taipei Basin, both have grown inseparably closer, due to the extensive MRT lines bridging the barriers between the two municipalities, forming the tight-knit Greater Taipei area.
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  • Updated: 2011-7-15 14:08
  • Reviewed: 2011-7-15 14:07

  • Source: Taipei City Government