Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Dihua Street
迪化街 年味正濃

A boy dances outside a storefront in Taipei’s Dihua Street on Jan. 17.

Photo: Paul Cooper, Taipei Times

When it was first constructed, in the 1850s, in the Dadaocheng area in Taipei, Dihua Street was known as Center Street, presumably because of its central location within that part of town. The origin of some sections of the street stretch back further, to the time of Dutch rule, so it can lay claim to being one of the oldest streets in Taipei. The architecture is also the subject of conservation initiatives by the city government.

During the 19th century, the street established itself as a major commercial center, selling Taiwanese products and Chinese medicinal herbs, incense, fabrics, and the processing of Taiwanese tea. The name was changed to Dihua Street in 1947 when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) started replacing local names with those of places in China. It was considered an appropriate reference, as the Dihua in China was an important regional commercial and financial center in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, built between 1763 and 1767 during the Qianlong reign of the Qing dynasty. The name survives in Taipei’s Dihua Street, even though its Chinese namesake is now part of a city renamed Urumqi.

Relatively quiet for most of the year, the street becomes a hive of activity in the run up to the lunar new year period, when thousands of Taipei-ites descend to buy snacks and necessities for the new year festivities.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)





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