From the Earliest Business District, the Past Days' Ginza, to Today's Jhongjheng Business District
In the Yongzheng Era of the Qing Dynasty, "Five Ports" were constructed for canal transportation. The places along these 5 canals were the richest areas of the prefectural city, and Jhongjheng Business District was one of the prosperous areas with busy commercial activities. In the early period of the Republic of China, shipping was the main transportation mean between Tainan downtown and Anping. Vessels with diesel engines caused very loud "bang" noise due to the combustion of engines. Today's older generations were deeply impressed by the loud noise of "bang boats" heard in their childhood. Later on, Zengwen River was diverted to Tai River, making sandbank gradually silted at the inland sea. Finally, the original transportation function of these canals was lost.
"Suehiro Cho" was the most bustling and popular area in Tainan during the Japanese occupation period and was also within the area of today's Jhongjheng Business District. At that time, the government planned to develop the first shopping street downtown. Subsequently, "Haiyashi Department Store" was opened, thus giving this region a title of "Ginza" of the prefectural city. Today's elder residents still remember that young couples often went to "Today Cinema" hand in hand to watch movies, had delicious meals at "Shaka Reba," and ultimately went to the beginning of the street to buy the required supplies for marriage. Besides, a one-day trip normally ended at the "Nine Floors" Bowling Alley. These activities show that Jhongjheng Business District was the most important business district in Tainan.
After 1971, because the canal gradually lost its transportation function, the government filled up the canal and built "China Town" on the land. After completion of the project, the district developed rapidly, and reached a peak period of prosperity in the 1980s~90s. After the 1990s, "Haian Underground Street" was constructed, but blocked the shopping crowds on Jhongjheng Road. From then on, a substantial change was caused to the economic position of the "Ginza" District. Although the barrier was later eliminated and Haian Road was reopened, the consumers were not youngsters anymore. If the business district would like to attract the new generation, there will be a need to reconsider its future development.
In June 2014, "Haiyashi Department Store," after being closed for 82 years, re-opened! This is the smallest department store in Taiwan. It attempts to restore its old appearance with a new style. The products sold here are full of cultural ideas and creativity, representing a new start of new thinking and new direction in Jhongjheng Business District. When you walk on the streets here some day, please take a closer look at these shops. There are boutiques in European architectural design, display of foreign products, and reappearance of old movie billboards. The old Ginza atmosphere of Jhongjheng Business District was revitalized by stylish and creative elements.