The iconic image of Taipei is actually an image of its most eastern and youngest district, Xinyi, 信義. Even more specific, it is an image of the Xinyi Planning Area, “the most important shining project in the history of Taiwan’s urban planning development” according to its definitely completely neutral Chinese Wikipedia entry.
Xinyi used to lie at the outskirts of Taipei. Still part of Songshan district, the area was industrial and rural with repair factories, military villages and shooting ranges. It was this lack of development that made it a good place for urban planning starting in the 1990s.
Driven by central planning, Xinyi is now the main financial and commercial center of Taipei and Taiwan with many of its highest skyscrapers and the highest density of department stores in the world. (Taipei 101 was the world’s highest building from 2004 to 2010).
The fact that it’s iconic for Taipei is rather ironic, though: The commercial area is the only part of Taipei where the absolut height limit is canceled.