After 17 months of reconstruction, the 93-year-old Chien-Cheng Circle food market in Taipei's Tatung District reopened yesterday evening.
Due to the two devastating conflagrations in 1993 and 1999, Taipei City Government decided in March 2001 to revitalize the time-honored food market. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) ordered the demolition of the Chien-Cheng Circle and announced that its reconstruction was one of the projects aiming to revitalize Taipei's older districts.
The reconstruction cost the city government about NT$160 million in construction and NT$50 million in compensation for old vendors residing in the former building.
Located at the intersection of Chungching North Road, Nanking West Road and other four arteries, the Chien-Cheng Circle has been part of the collective memory of many Taipei citizens as well as international visitors because of the Taiwanese delicacies available there all night.
Dubbing the opening of the new circle as "the reappearance of Taipei's halo," the city government yesterday gave away 700 food-tasting coupons of NT$100 each and organized a tour of the historical building.
The tour was led by Chuang Yung-ming (莊永明), who is a vice chairman of the municipal historical research department and also a professor at Taipei Medical University.
Branded Taipei's new delicacies landmark, the brand new Chien-Cheng Circle is a cylindrical two-story glass building accommodating 20 food-vending booths, as well as a performing arts center on the top of the building.
Designed on the theme "the circle of life," the architect Lee Tsu-yuan (李祖原), a nationally distinguished architect who also designed the Taipei MRT's Hsintien Depot, said that he wanted to let people enjoy traditional fare in a modern building, attracting both old and young customers.
Blooming since the Japanese colonial era, the Chien-Cheng Circle was the most bustling and popular night market in northern Taiwan.
In its heyday during the 1960s and 1970s, there were about 100 booths selling popular Taiwanese snacks such as glutinous rice dumplings, oyster omelettes, fish ball noodles, unfried spring rolls and other delicacies.
During the reconstruction, the engineering team unearthed a reservoir from the center of the circle which was constructed by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
The city government has announced the reservoir as the 105th historic spot in Taipei.
Huang Jung-feng (
"It is Taipei's pride," Huang said.