English Service host John Van Trieste is curious. There’s nothing about Taiwan’s many cultures that he doesn’t want to know more about. Join him every week as he gets to the bottom of yet another question. What will he be curious about this time?
In the 1920’s, the newly born city of Taipei was a rapidly changing place. Automobiles began to fill streets where human-power rickshaws had once been the only means of transport. Telephone lines began to connect once distant parts of town. An expanding waterworks system piped in clean water into homes, and electricity lit up the night as it did in only a few other tiny slivers of Taiwan. The city was a dynamic sort of place that old black-and-white photos just don’t do justice to. And, at the same time, it was also a city subject to colonial rule, where locals and colonizers lived very unequal lives. Fortunately for us, a snapshot of this city more than any photo survives, a 1928 guide to the city that lists everything there was. Part tourist guidebook, part phone directory, part atlas, it maps out every single business, public institution, and even market stall that stood at the time, giving a valuable look at what people of the time were buying, what conditions they lived in, and what visitors to the city could expect when they arrived. Long out of print, it has been reissued this year by the Chiang Wei-shui Foundation, an organization devoted to the 1920’s-era doctor, proponent of Taiwanese culture, and leader of anti-colonial struggle Chiang Wei-shui, a man mentioned in the guide itself. Association director and grandson of Chiang Wei-shui, Mr. Chiang Chao-ken, joins us today for a look at this priceless document and a look at why his organization has decided to reprint it....more