How a 97-Year-Old Man Literally Saved His Hometown by Covering It in Artwork

Originally published JUN 17, 2019

As a child, you might have been told that art has the power to transform the world. Thanks to the efforts of 97-year-old Huang Yung-fu, this has once again been proven true. To protect his beloved hometown from being torn down, the activist covered abandoned houses with colorful murals and doodles. Now, “The Rainbow Village” attracts hoards of visitors every year. 

It all began when the Taiwanese government threatened to demolish Taichung City. Though the village was once a popular tourist destination, the area had become increasingly run-down. GoodNewsNetwork reports that 1,200 families used to live in the city. But as more people moved away for better living conditions, that number dwindled down to just one.

Yung-fu, a retired war veteran, wasn’t ready to give up on his hometown. Equipped with paint, paintbrushes, and patience, he started coloring the city and transforming the Nantun district into “The Rainbow Village.” 

Huang had not created any art since his father taught him to draw at age 3. But, as he covered empty houses with animal doodles, colorful paint, and swirling designs, he fell in love with the process once again.

The veteran continued to decorate the walls of his neighborhood until local university students noticed. They began referring to Huang as “The Rainbow Grandpa” and demanded that the buildings be preserved. Thanks to the students’ support and the increase in tourism, the town will no longer be torn down.

Huang continues to cover the village in art. Some days, he wakes up as early as 3 AM so he can spend hours adding detail to the captivating murals. Tourists now travel from all over the world to view his artwork first-hand and learn from his inspiring example.

Watch the video below to learn more:

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