The Zhongyang Streets of Penghu was called “the high streets” or “downtown roads” in the old days. As the earliest commercial district of Penghu, the Zhongyang Streets are featured by a dozen of narrow alleys and lanes built in the Qing and Ming Dynasties, indicating the district were quite busy back then.
Today, various historic buildings can still be found here, such as the famous Shigong Shrine, Wanjun Well and Shuixian Temple. In fact, the Taiwan-Xiamen Merchants’ Association was also founded here. Its office was first set up inside the Tianhou Temple and later moved to the Shuixian Temple.
The majority of the architecture here is longish. In the past, a family would live at one end of a house and do business at the other. In addition, the narrow alleys and lanes look almost mysterious today. There is even an alley only 6 meters wide.
During the Japanese Rule, the Zhongyang Streets further expanded into a commercial area nicknamed “The Seven Streets and One Market.” Such include the Dajingtou Street, Cangqian Street, Youyingheng Street, Youyingzhi Street, Dutou Street, Haibian Street, Zhuoying Street and the Fish and Vegetables Market. The busy area is well developed even in modern standards.
After Taiwan was retroceded to the nationalist government in 1945, the streets of Magong were re-planned and new commercial districts were built. Since then, the Zhongyang Streets were no longer the only business area in town. In the late 1980s, the Zhongyang Streets were further threatened by an urban plan, in which the streets would be divided into several smaller zones. Dedicated officials and scholars launched a project in 1991 to preserve the Zhongyang Streets as a “cultural and historic district,” and encouraged locals to refurbish their old homes. Eventually, the earliest commercial district of Penghu—the Zhongyang Streets—was retained.