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1. Dutch Formosa, Spanish Formosa, and Koxinga (Zheng Cheng-gong) of the Ming Dynasty

Junk boats from China's coastal communities were known to travel back and forth across the strait as far back as the 16th century, engaging in fishing and trade activities in Keelung and Danshui areas. During the 2nd year of Ming Emperor Tianqi's reign (1622), the Dutch East India Company set up a trading outpost in Dayuan (today's Anping District of Tainan). Four years later, in the 4th year of Emperor Tianqi's reign (1626), the Spaniards landed in - and occupied - northern Taiwan at the ports of Keelung and Danshui as a base to extend their missionary work and trade. In the 15th year of Ming Emperor Chongzhen's reign (1642), the Dutch forces drove out the Spaniards to take over their fortresses in Keelung and Dansui, and began trading and missionary activities. In the 15th year of Ming Emperor Yongli's reign (1661), Koxinga (Zheng Cheng-gong) landed in Luerman and captured Fort Zeelandia. He expelled the Dutch in the following year and established Chengtian Fu (Governor's Office) as the official leader of Taiwan, and erected Wannian and Tianxing counties. Taipei in this era belonged to Tianxing County in jurisdiction. Zheng sent his trusted general Huang An, his navy and army to defend Danshui. He also inaugurated the Tuntian system (a state-promoted method of agriculture) and sent his navy to travel by Danshui River to open up the Guandu and Beitou areas.
Chen Lai-zhang Land Grant Bopiliao district in Mengjia

2. Development during Qing Dynasty

The Taipei Basin, in its early days, was the home of the aboriginal Ketagalan Tribe: this was where the tribesmen hunted and fished. In the 36th year of Qing Emperor Kangxi's reign (1697), Yu Yonghe arrived at the Taipei Basin and was greeted by a vast body of water, which was called Kangxi Taipei Lake. In the 48th year of Qing Emperor Kangxi's reign (1709), the “Chen Lai-zhang Land Grant” by the Han Chinese was granted imperial permission, and large-scale land development projects started. Irrigation constructions and the expansion of arable lands resulted in population growth, and villages began to take shape. Mengjia was where the first viable street blocks and markets took shape. The town became what is now known as Wanhua. Other marketplaces to form in succession were: Shilin Street, Xikou Street, Dalongdong, Dadaocheng and downtown Taipei. Their formation histories are as follows:

(1) Mengjia

Mengjia was colloquially called "the yam city" , and located at the meeting place of Guiyang Street, Section 2, and Huanhe South Road, Section 2. The city was an epitome of a trade city, and due to its close proximity to Danshui River, many trade boats berthed along the city's riverside. The aboriginal Pingpu people traveled by "Mankha" - a type of canoe - on Danshui River, and the Han settlers began calling the place by the community's Pingpu pronunciation, "Mengjia." In the 57th year of Qing Emperor Qianlong's reign (1792), Balifen (the estuary of Danshui River) was elevated in status to become an official trade port. Boats and skiffs could travel directly to and from Hokkien. The new policy facilitated trade between northern Taiwan and China, solidifying Mengjia's status as a vital commercial port. By the early 19th century, Mengjia was Taiwan's third largest port, earning its stripes in the city's slogan: "First Tainan, second Lugang, third Mengjia."

(2) Dadaocheng

Dadaocheng used to be the settlement community of the aboriginal Kimotsi people under the Ketagalan Tribe. Legend had it that Dadaocheng got its name from the square where harvested rice was being sunned to dry. The marketplace in Dadaocheng started with the central street. In the 10th year of Qing Emperor Xianfeng's reign (1860), Danshui Harbor was officially inaugurated. In the 2nd year of Qing Emperor Tongzhi's reign (1863), local authorities designated Danshui River's headwaters in Mengjia as the gateway of Danshui Harbor, and Dadaocheng became an external trade port. After the harbor was opened for business, tea - in particular, oolong tea - became the export staple, and Dadaocheng became a processing center for tea. This business development resulted in the slew of local tea shops in Dadaocheng, and the popularization of foreign commerce centers in the community dedicated to tea trade and other business interests.
The bustling tea trade activities in Dadaocheng's early days Bopiliao district in Mengjia

(3) Downtown Taipei

The formation of downtown Taipei was heavily influenced by the city's prefectural establishment and fortress construction. In the 1st year of Qing Emperor Guangxu's reign (1875), Imperial Commissioner Shen Bao-zhen asked for permission from the Imperial Court to establish the Taipei Prefecture in Mengjia (a general term used to describe downtown Taipei), and built the Taipei Prefecture Office (located in today's Zhongzheng District), making Taipei a prefectural administrative district. In 1884, the 10th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign, the construction of a walled city was completed. After Taiwan was established as a province of China in the 11th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign, the first Governor, Liu Ming-chuan was appointed. Two years later in 1887, the province was reorganized into three prefectures, under the administration of Hokkien Province, 11 counties, and three sub-prefectures. The seat of government was set up in "Qiaozitu" (south district of Taichung City of today). Due to failures in subsequent administrative compliance, the provincial capital was temporarily relocated to the city of Taipei, and the city's status grew more crucial. It later became Taiwan's political center. Many development projects took place during Liu's governance, and they elevated Taipei's political, economic, financial and military significance.
The bustling tea trade activities in Dadaocheng's early days Bopiliao district in Mengjia

(4) Dalongdong

Dalongdong is located in the neighborhood of Keelung River and Danshui River's convergence point; it used to be the settlement village of the aboriginal Daronpon people under the Ketagalan Tribe. It also used to be the settlement community of the aboriginal Daronpon. Daronpon communities inhabited by Han settlers were in existence in the 29th year of Qing Emperor Qianlong's reign (1764). Tongan people from Hokkien were a majority among the Han settlers, and it was why "Daronpon" evolved to be known as "Dalongtong." A mountainous outcrop in the shape of a dragon was found in Dalongtong, and Dalongtong Street was located at the tail of the dragon. That was why "Dalongtong" was rechristened to similar-sounding "Dalongdong" .
A piece of brick rock taken from the ancient walled city ofTaipei, now on display in Beitou Depot Left: Portrait of Shen Bao-zhen; Right: Portrait of Liu Ming-chuan

(5) Xikou Street

Xikou Street used to be the settlement community of the aboriginal Malysyakkaw people under Ketagalan Tribe. Conveniently located, Xikou was situated by the bank of Keelung River to easily accommodate boat traffic. Xikou was the midway point for transport from Mengjia and Tamsui to Keelung. The Han Chinese had built their own settlements in Xikou in the 29th year of Qing Emperor Qianlong's reign (1764). By the 1st year of Qing Emperor Daoguang (1821), the name, "Xikou Street" began to take root.

Ancient buildings from the bustling Shilin District in 1990s

(6) Shilin Street

Today's Shilin District was actually the old settlement community of the aboriginal kimassauw people under the Ketagalan Tribe. The Ketagalan Tribe was one of the Taiwanese Plains aborigine groups. Pattsiran Street was already in existence in the 20th year of Qing Emperor Qianlong's reign. Pattsiran Street was the foundation of the Old Street. Old Street was conveniently located: it could easily allow merchant boats to berth, and accommodate land transport. By mid-Qing Dynasty, Shilin Street had become a commerce hub, where local products were traded and marketed.
Shidian Ceremony held every year at Confucius Temple inDalongdong Raohe Street in Songshan District as the first downtown arteryin Xikou

3. Japanese Occupational Period

In the 38th year of the Meiji period (1905), the walls of the city were demolished to make room for transportation infrastructure; three-lane artery roadways were created using discarded foundational walls. The street network in Taipei City was centered around the New Park (the modern-day 228 Peace Memorial Park), and the development spread outward in a radial fashion. In the 7th year of the Showa period (1932), Taihoku Prefecture announced plans to develop the Greater Taipei Downtown Area, transforming it into a city inhabited by a population of 600,000. Nevertheless, the city became dichotomized in its community growth: the Taiwanese inhabitants and their Japanese counterparts lived in two separate communities.

Most of the Japanese, officials, military officers and merchants spread out to neighboring areas from downtown Taipei. As a result, the Japanese communities were more tight-knit, and segregated from the Taiwanese inhabitants. All the modernized development projects, including hospitals, lighting services, cultural and education organizations, and business centers were established with Japanese interests as priority, and set up in Japanese communities. Industrial establishments were inhabited by Taiwanese scattered across community blocks. Dadaocheng's neighboring areas were devoted to ironworks; and marketplaces within Dadaocheng were mostly dedicated to the food processing industry, particularly tea. Chemical industries were set up in areas south of Mengjia.

Three-lane artery roadway during Japanese OccupationalPeriod (the modern-day Aiguo West Road) A look at Taipei City's Xinyi business district

4. Provincial- and Direct- Municipality

In 1945, Taipei was designated as a provincial municipality. Four years later, the Chinese Nationalist Government relocated to Taiwan, and Taipei became a provisional capital. From then on, its status grew more and more important. In July, 1967, Taipei became a directly-controlled municipality. Considering the city's urban development planning, Nangang Township, Jingmei Township, Muzha Township and Neihu Township of Taipei County, along with Beitou Township and Shilin Township - managed by Yangmingshan Administration Bureau - were annexed into Taipei City a year later. Meanwhile, a plan to transform Taipei into a city of 2.5 million took shape. Population grew quickly upon Taipei's status upgrade. The city's development also started to shift eastward, and the Xinyi urban center project was formulated as a result. In 1990, Taipei’s administrative districts went through another reorganization: the 16 districts were restructured into 12. They are: Songshan, Xinyi, Daan, Zhongshan, Zhongzheng, Datong, Wanhua, Wenshan, Nangang, Neihu, Shilin, and Beitou.