Friday, March 1, 2013

This is my blog

Dear readers,

I am briefly bringing Brian Goes to Town out of hiatus to write about an an issue which has troubled me greatly. I further believe that it deserves to be known by all of those who have appreciated my photographs and my writing.

As reported in the Philly Post this morning, the issue involves Old Images of Philadelphia, a highly popular Facebook page which shares a large number of historic photographs of the city. A kind reader brought to my attention on February 25 that the author of the page, Carl Manley, had duplicated a large number of images from this blog without my knowledge or consent. While my initial count included 43 then-and-now images which were used without attribution, I have since discovered that nearly all of my Philadelphia-area photographs have been posted repeatedly, totaling over 200 instances of copyright violation. In some instances, my written text accompanying the images was also copied, again with no citation. Consider the following Facebook images as they appear at the time of this writing, compared to my original post.

The list could go on.

I first contacted Mr. Manley by email on February 25 with a notice to remove the 43 unauthorized images that I initially counted. Despite his efforts to apologize, he refused to remove the offending images due to a computer issue. Those photographs were reported to Facebook on February 27, and were removed by the following morning. It was only after this and my exchanges with Manley that I discovered the additional hundreds of photographs, and the true depth of the problem. As I do not wish to prolong this affair much further, I will shortly report the remainder of the stolen images that I am aware of to Facebook.

While writing for Brian Goes to Town, I made every effort to provide fair and accurate credit to the providers of the historic images and to all information sources which were consulted during the writing of each post. The then-and-now images were always meant to be seen with the accompanying commentary, sources and credits. Duplication of my work without permission or acknowledgement is an affront not only to my efforts, but to those who made my work possible and to anyone who may be inspired to do their own research. On a personal level, it is extremely painful to see another person handily receive credit and praise for works which required hours of my travel, research, and writing. Proper sourcing and crediting of images and written materials is a matter not only of common decency, but the law.

I have largely left this blog untouched since moving to Los Angeles in 2010, and I sincerely apologize to all whose comments have been awaiting moderation for months, even years. While it is unfortunate that I could not revisit this blog on a happier occasion, I am humbled and truly thankful for all of the support that I have received in the past few days. As always, thank you for reading.

Brian Hsu

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I've moved

It's taken a while, but I've finally gotten settled in Los Angeles. For those who would be interested, I have also decided to continue writing from a new blog called Urban Diachrony. For for the time being, it will be a little more photoblog-like, and a lot lighter on written content until I get myself a bit more oriented here. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Original photo: Butterfield, Chalmers. "Brown Derby Restaurant, Los Angeles, Kodachrome." Wikimedia Commons. Wikipedia. 20 Aug. 2010.,_Los_Angeles_,_Kodachrome_by_Chalmers_Butterfield.jpg.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Then and Now: Ximen Circle, part 2


Ximen Circle is a particularly fascinating place in Taipei's history in no small part because it was arguably the city's most fantastically complicated and chaotic intersection. Up until the end of the 20th century, streets branched out in seven directions, and furthermore, the entire traffic circle was bisected by a busy at-grade railroad crossing. Meanwhile, pedestrian circulation was facilitated by several elevated pedestrian walkways. Visible in the right foreground of the original photo above is a portion of Zhonghua Market (中華商場), an eight-block market complex that occupied the center of Zhonghua Road (中華路), alongside the railroad tracks.

Ximen Circle in 1945 (photo credit below)

The intersection's configuration dates back to the early days of Japanese colonization. After the Japanese empire took control of Taiwan in 1895, it took few delays in shaping Taipei into the island's provincial capital. In 1900, the colonial government began to dismantle its city walls, replacing them with a series of boulevards, including Zhonghua Road on the western side. The walled city's western gate was demolished and replaced by an elliptical plaza and traffic circle, shaped like a smaller version of the Place de la République in Paris. Railroad tracks were built in the median of Zhonghua Road shortly afterward.

Ximen Circle's railroad tracks and central plaza, 1978 (photo credit below).

That design remained essentially unchanged up through the 1980s, when the city embarked on several ambitious efforts to modernize its infrastructure. Underground railroad tunnels were built to replace all at-grade tracks west of Taipei Main Station; the Zhonghua Road rails were removed when the tunnels opened in 1989. Demolition of the struggling Zhonghua Market complex began in the following year. Later in the 1990s, Ximen Circle was rebuilt as a four-way intersection during construction of the Taipei Metro's first east-west subway route, now the Nangang Line. Both projects were completed in 1999.


Then and Now photographs:
1. Carpenter, N. "Oversea Chinese Emporium Ltd." 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 24 Jul. 2010.
2. Duffin, L. "1972 shot of the same location and view as photo #1 above." 1972. Shulinkou Air Station. 24 Jul. 2010.
Other photographs:
1. "0005017388 - 台北市西門町." 1978. 行政院新聞局. 國家文化資料庫. 行政院文化建設委員會. 2 Aug. 2010.
2. U.S. Army Map Service. "Taihoku-Matsuyama." 1945. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. University of Texas Libraries. 2 Aug. 2010.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Then and Now: Ximen Circle (西門圓環), Taipei


Since the end of World War II, Taipei's Ximending district (西門町) has been one of the city's largest retail and entertainment hubs, as well as a major center of local youth culture. The neighborhood is one of few places in Taiwan to have retained its Japanese colonial period name, literally "west gate town," owing to its location immediately outside of Taipei's western walls. Though the city walls were dismantled in 1905, Ximending's main entrance continues to face the major intersection that has replaced the western gate, long known as Ximen Circle.

The intersection underwent an enormous reconfiguration during the 1990s, which included the conversion of the traffic circle into a single, essentially four-way crossing, replacing the central plaza with smaller ones along the edges, one of which is shown above. The Ximen Taipei Metro station opened in 1999, and has consistently been one of the most heavily used stops in the system.

Original photo: Carpenter, N. "Looking back at the traffic circle in the opposite direction." 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 23 Jul. 2010.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Then and Now: Intersection of Zhongshan and Minquan Roads looking south, Taipei


The Zhongshan and Minquan Road intersection is still busy today, although it's no longer one of downtown Taipei's most important crossroads. Most of Taipei's major avenues were reconfigured and landscaped in the 1950s and 60s; the trees running down Zhongshan Road's two median strips in the original photo appear to have been planted only several years earlier.

The hotel building in the background with the circular rooftop restaurant, known as the Center Hotel in 1970, was later reopened as the Fortuna Hotel (富都大飯店), which closed in 2007 and was demolished shortly afterwards. The four two-story commercial buildings just off of the street corner on the right side still remain, although somewhat hidden underneath a billboard addition.

Original photo: Lentz, R. "Central Hotel and Back Street Market" 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 19 Jul. 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Then and Now: FuShun St, Taipei


In the 1960s and 70s, the side streets off of Zhongshan North Road, Section 2 housed a number of bars and nightclubs that were mainly popular among American servicemen and other expats. Pictured here is FuShun Street (撫順街), once home to a number of such establishments like the Queen's Club, the Hawaii Bar, and the Arcade Bar.

40 years later, the American military presence in Taiwan is long gone, and the neighborhood is no longer much of a nightlife hotspot. Today's FuShun Street, substantially more built up, is a rather typical-looking side street, and almost completely unrecognizable from its former appearance. However, one building seems to remain from the original view: the bunker-like concrete building in the right foreground.

Original photo: Carpenter, N. "Looking down Fu-Shun Street." 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 13 Jul. 2010.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

1970s Taipei through American eyes

It's not the most obvious place one would expect to find a bunch of old photographs of Taipei, but a website (on Tripod, no less) maintained by former U.S. military personnel stationed at Shulinkou Air Station happens to have a small but valuable collection of such photos. The 6987th Security Group was one of many American military units stationed in Taiwan between 1955 and 1977, during the period of formal military cooperation between the United States military and the Republic of China government. The website is a messy one to navigate, but it offers a few fascinating glimpses of expatriate life in the island's capital city.

Minquan E. Road east of Xinsheng N. Road, 1970

Their photographs reveal a city that was in many ways dramatically different from contemporary Taipei, and one which doesn't usually invite much nostalgia. In the 1970s, it was by all accounts a rather drab, gritty place, with little of the cosmopolitan glamour of other East Asian metropolises like Hong Kong or Tokyo. Despite rapid population growth, the central city remained relatively low-slung, with extremely few high-rise buildings. The city's downtown remained largely concentrated along Zhongshan Road, and had yet to be be overtaken by fast-growing districts to the east.

View north on Zhonghua Road, 1972

Unfortunately, many of the vantage points that these photographs were taken from no longer exist or are no longer publicly accessible, a principle cause being the destruction of the elevated pedestrian walkways that once crossed over most of the city's major intersections. Again, it's not an easy website to get around, but for anyone acquainted with contemporary Taipei, it's worth a look.

Photo credits:
1. Carpenter, M. "Making the rounds in Taipei." 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 11 Jul. 2010.
2. Swallom, S. "The intersection of Min Chuan East Road and Hsin Shen North Road." 1970. Shulinkou Air Station. 11 Jul. 2010.
3. Duffin, L. "1972 shot of Chung-Hua Road." 1972. Shulinkou Air Station. 11 Jul. 2010.