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An Introduction to the Zhongshan Hall

To commemorate the ascension of Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1928, the Japanese colonial government in Taiwan dismantled the Qing Dynasty Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall in Taipei, moving part of the structure to the city’s Botanical Garden, and began making plans to erect a new edifice at the original location – the Taipei City Public Auditorium.

Construction of the Taipei City Public Auditorium (later to be known as Zhongshan Hall) began on November 23, 1932 and was completed on November 26, 1936, after four years of extensive labor. Ide Kaoru, the main architect serving as Chief Engineer in Taiwan under the Japanese government, oversaw the project, which required ¥980,000 and the efforts of some 94,500 workers.

A four-story structure of steel-reinforced concrete, the Taipei City Public Auditorium was designed to be fire-resistant and to withstand severe earthquakes and typhoons. The building, occupying a total area of roughly 44,000 square feet, was located on grounds of 113,000 square feet, making it the fourth largest civic auditorium of Japan at the time, smaller only than the civic auditoriums of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

In 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces, ending World War II, and Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule. The formal ceremony of the surrender of Taiwan took place with great solemnity at the Taipei City Public Auditorium. General Chen Yi, Chief of the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Office, represented the Supreme Military Commander of the Republic of China in accepting the surrender of Ando Rikichi, the Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan and Commander of the 10th Japanese Area Army. The occasion marked Taiwan's return to Chinese governance after five decades of Japanese rule.

It was at this time that the former Taipei City Public Auditorium gained its current name: Zhongshan Hall. For a time, it served as the official meeting place of the ROC National Assembly, and to this day remains an important venue for major official gatherings and cultural events.

Zhongshan Hall has long served as one of the formal reception venues for visiting foreign dignitaries, including several heads of state, such as US president Richard Nixon, president of South Korea Syngman Rhee, president of South Vietnam Ngo Đình Diệm, president of the Philippines Carlos P. Garcia, and the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Zhongshan Hall has also hosted a number of official state ceremonies, including the signing of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty and the formal inauguration ceremonies of the second, third and fourth presidents and vice-presidents of the Republic of China. In recognition of the distinctive historic significance of this institution, the government of Taiwan formally designated Zhongshan Hall as a Class Two National Historical Site in 1992.