84-Year-Old Saves Neighborhood From Bulldozer By Painting Every Street With Joyful Colors

Steven Barringer/Flickr; CC license

14 years ago in Taiwan, an 84-year old military veteran painted an entire government village to prevent it from being torn down. Now aged 98, the painter is still there, as is the village—and it’s since become a famous travel stop.

A series of small one-story homes, Rainbow Village is now a city park where painted animals and human figures sit happily in every color imaginable upon a grid of rainbow boulevards.

Steven Barringer/Flickr; CC license

When Huang Yung Fu started painting the occasional wall in the exceedingly drab Caihong Military Dependents’ Village in Taichung City, it was originally to relieve boredom.

But when Huang learned that the ghost town he and his wife lived in was to be levelled, he kicked into artistic overdrive, covering every paving stone, gutter, and door in pictures and paint.

Now an internationally-recognized tourist attraction, Huang and his wife are the only residents of the Rainbow Village—where they welcome visitors and live their lives.

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“In 2010, professors and students from Ling Tung and Hungkuang Universities chanced upon the paintings and were struck by their cute and expressive nature,” writes the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.

Steven Barringer/Flickr; CC license

“Student Charles Tsai brought together students and faculty to appeal to the Taichung City Government to preserve this unexpected piece of cultural heritage, leading the “Save Rainbow Village” campaign. As the news spread, Huang himself began to be known as ‘Grandpa Rainbow.’”

The campaign was a success, and the area is preserved in Taichung as an art park. Lonely Planet ranked it as one of the “secret marvels of the world,” and Culture Trip put it as the most “Instagrammable spot” in Taiwan.

Steven Barringer/Flickr; CC license

Because of the cost of maintaining the village, the government created the Rainbow Cultural and Creative Co. which produces the tourist infrastructure and helps supply the paint to expand and repair the murals.

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