Saigon’s history traced via yesteryear charms

By Quynh Tran   January 11, 2020 | 09:31 am GMT+7

The transition of Saigon from an idyllic paradise to a colonial city is captured in an exhibition of 19th century photos and paintings.

A port operated by local citizens by the Saigon River in 1896.

A wharf on the Saigon River in 1896.

Ben Nghe Canal in the 1860s.

Ben Nghe Canal in the 1860s.

Nguyen Hue Boulevard in late 19th century. The entire street was a canal at first, built to lead water from the Saigon River into the city. In 1887, the French filled up the canal to create the boulevard.

Nguyen Hue Boulevard in the late 19th century. The entire street was a canal at first, built to lead water from the Saigon River into the city. In 1887, the French filled up the canal to create the boulevard.

Vendors on the street of Saigon in late 19th century.

Vendors on a Saigon street in late 19th century.

Thi Nghe Canal in a photo taken in the 60s of the 19th century. When they built plans for Saigon, the French only defined the city within the scope of what is District 1 these days.

The Thi Nghe Canal in a photo taken in the 1860s. When they built plans for Saigon, the French only defined the city within the scope of what is District 1 today.

A painting about an examination in the 19th century. The Confucian court examination system entered Vietnam during the long era of almost 1,000 years of Chinese occupation and adopted by subsequent independent dynasties as a way of filling the civil service. The exams saw invigilators seated on high chairs to inspect candidates, who sit in bamboo tents they built at home and took to the place where the test was held.For this particular painting, the then examination venue is now the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Cultural House on Pham Ngoc Thach Street in District 1.

A painting of an examination in the 19th century. The Confucian court examination system was introduced during Chinese occupation of the country that lasted almost a millennia and was adopted by subsequent independent dynasties as a civil service exam.

The exams at that time had invigilators seated on high chairs and candidates who sat on stools and tables they carried themselves, not to mention bamboo tents they built at home and carried to where the exam was held.

The examination venue in this particular painting, is now the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Cultural House on Pham Ngoc Thach Street in District 1.

A corner of Saigon in the early 19th century when the French had yet to take the city in 1859.

A corner of Saigon in the early 19th century before the French took it over in 1859.

A family of the old Saigon.

A Saigon family in an undated picture.

One of the oldest items showcased at the event is a painting in 1820 about a port of Saigon by American customs officer John White.

One of the oldest items at the event is an 1820 painting of a port in Saigon by American customs officer John White.

After occupying Saigon, the French started to renovate the city, building more palaces, villas, and streets. Dong Khoi was initially created under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) as an exclusive route for the royal family to travel from the citadel of Gia Dinh to the Saigon River. Later the French made it one of the major routes of Saigon and named it Catinat. Until 1864, Catinat still had all indigenous features but at the beginning of the 20th century, it started to have French colors with the Opera House, Hotel Continental Saigon and Grand Hotel..

After occupying Saigon, the French began renovating the city, building more villas and streets.

Dong Khoi Street was initially built under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) as an exclusive route for the royal family to travel from the citadel of Gia Dinh to the Saigon River. The French made it one of the major routes in the city and named it Catinat.

Until 1864, Catinat had all its indigenous features, but at the beginning of the 20th century, it started to have French colors with the Opera House, Hotel Continental Saigon and Grand Hotel.

A wet market in late 19th century. The free-entry exhibition will last until the National Archives Center No.2 need to get back the space for new event.

A wet market in late 19th century Saigon are among photographs that capture its rural ambience before its transformation into a modern city that came to be known as the Pearl of the Orient.

A space recreating a French ancient villa in downtown Saigon is showcasing 200 pictures, paintings and documents telling stories of Saigon before and after the French invasion in the early 19th century.  Themed Saigon – from feudal urban area to a western city, the exhibition is taking place at the National Archives Center No.2 at 2 Le Duan Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1.

A space recreating a French colonial villa in downtown Saigon is showcasing 200 pictures, paintings and documents telling the story of Saigon before and after the French invasion in the early 19th century. Titled "Saigon – from feudal urban area to a western city," the exhibition is open at the National Archives Center No.2, at 17 Le Duan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Organizers have said that the exhibition will remain open until the center needs to get back the space for a new event.

 
 
go to top