Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, November 5, 2007

Five Years After Closure

Les Duffin recently provided me with several photographs that he took of the old HSA compound area in 1984. That was five years after President James Earl Carter terminated diplomatic relations with Taiwan and pulled all American military personnel from the country. You can get a larger view of each photo by clicking on it.








The FASD hostel (front building) in front of the west compound.









Another view of the front entrance to the hostel.









This is the vehicle entrance to the right of the hostel. The rear building is where I lived and I believe my upstairs apartment was the next one to the left of the one shown here.









This is a view of the main entrance to the east compound from across the street (Chung Shan North Road).











Another view of the west compound from across the street. You can see the chapel to the left and other buildings in the background.









Looking northwest toward the entrance to the west compound.



Here are a few of Les's observations from that 1984 visit:

  • I expected to find very few traces of the US military presence, and in some cases that was true. The old Bank of Taiwan military housing compounds in Tien Mu, for example, had been razed; only the swimming pool and little league baseball field remained, plus a sign indicating Taipei American School would construct its new facilities there. Across the road [was] a new Japanese school . . . .
  • The HSA West Compound was intact, just locked up and left there. The East Compound appeared to be almost the same, except that a new Chinese Military Police (CMP) headquarters had been built where the rear entrance used to be. The main entrance, on Chung Shan North Road, was still in use, with an MP guarding it; I assume it was a rear entrance for the new CMP building. The TDC compound was still there as well, occupied by some military unit and still with a pair of MPs standing guard at the entrance.
  • The FASD Hostel was still there, though the rear building (Hostel #2) had been converted into a school. And the FASD had taken over the old MAAG Officers Club across the street. I think I was told they were operating the other old MAAG club on Hsin Yi Road too, though I’m not sure who their customers might have been.

I view these old photos with both fascination and sadness, just like when I revisit any of the former military installations around the world that I was assigned to. I remember them as vibrant, well kept, self-contained cities and it's depressing to see them vacated and gradually falling apart.

Of course all that has changed now in Taipei, with the addition of the art museum and park in the east compound and the sports stadium and other structures to the west, but I'll probably always think of them as they were back then.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The FASD Hostel survived until the early 90s when it was pulled down for the park. It was being used as a hostel in some capacity as I remember visiting someone living there in 1990.

You can find a picture of the Tienmu Bank Of Taiwan housing here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrpibbs/384979316/in/set-72157594526945313/

Don said...

Interesting!

Someone told me a while back that after everything in the east compound was taken down, the property sat vacant for several years until they built the art museum and park.

Anonymous said...

I don't recollect what happened after about 1990. I just remember being surprised to visit someone there and finding it still being used as a hostel.

That whole block was (still is) government owned land but not all of it was leased to the US Military. The 'old' American club was between the Hostel and Taipei Story House (Japanese house between the art gallery and the river) and that was vacated in about 1980 when they moved to the old 63 Club. The old club was in a substantial Japanese building that doesn't appear on any of the MAAG/HSA compound maps.

Don said...

I was pretty certain that the American Club was next to the hostel. You could look down on their tennis courts from there. I think the courts were red clay, but can't swear to that.

From their website, it looks like they're doing really well in their "new" digs at the 63/China Seas Club building.