Welcome to 2016!
For our first month this year we want to spotlight our first Sister City – Taipei.
Houston and Taipei became Sister Cities in 1961, only five years after President Eisenhower founded the Sister Cities International Program. The idea was initiated by Raymond Hoo, the Consular General of the Republic of China (Taiwan). At the time, Houston’s Mayor was Lewis Cutrer and Chi-Jui Huey was the Mayor of Taipei. It was the first Sister City for each metropolis.
So what to do these two cities have in common?
Well, for starters, both are port cities with subtropical climates and large populations. In fact, Taipei is home to approximately 2,701,514 million people. Built along the banks of the Tamsui River, Taipei is the capital of, and largest city in, Taiwan. Taiwan itself lies between Japan and the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China. It is a very mountainous island existing on the western edge of the Pacific “rim of fire.” The city of Taipei is situated at the north end of the island in the Taipei Basin, an area that was once mostly marshy wasteland.
Today, Taipei is a diverse city with an international populace and a vibrant mix of past, present and future. Like Houston, this port city mixes culture and arts with business and commerce. One of its main cultural attractions is the National Palace Museum which houses the world’s largest and arguably finest collection of Chinese art.
Over the years the relationship between the two cities has grown. A symbol of this relationship can be found today in Hermann Park, in the beautiful Chinese pavilion that sits on the Pine Hill Walk in the McGovern Centennial Gardens. Taipei gave the pavilion to Houston in 1976 as a special gift on the occasion of our country’s bicentennial. The Houston-Taipei Society accepted the pavilion on behalf of the City of Houston and since then has had it restored once in 1995 and again in 2012.
In 2011, the Houston Taipei Society celebrated their 50 year anniversary. Present were over 350 guests, including Houston City Council Members and representatives of the Mayor’s Office. A slide show documenting nearly a half-century of the Houston-Taipei relationship can be found here