What’s On

Then and now photos of Saigon corners show how much the city has changed over time

By VnExpress, Saigon - Cho Lon Then and Now   September 21, 2016 | 10:26 am GMT+7

Have a closer look of Saigon’s transformation.

Members of a Facebook group page named "Saigon-Cho Lon Then & Now" have been putting together old photos of famous corners of Ho Chi Minh City with the new ones from the exact same viewpoints to demonstrate how striking the southern metropolis has changed.

With the time gaps ranging from ten to 90 years, many landscapes in town appear unrecognizable with new buildings, new statue and commercial billboards.

With all the ups and downs of the 20th century, it is also a pleasant surprise for many Saigoneers to see historical moments hapenning right on familiar streets of today. What is even more striking is in some cases the spots remain just exactly the same – aside from trees and the clothes and vehicles of the passers-by. 

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Ben Thanh market "Then" Souvenir book of Saigon from 1922, (photographer unknown) "Now" taken September 13, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Saigon - a 1920s view of rue Catinat from the place du Théâtre, with the Pharmacie principale L. Solirène on the left and the Grand Hôtel Continental on the right. And the same view today.

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Back view of the Saigon Cathedral. "Then" Souvenir book of Saigon from 1922, (photographer unknown) "Now" taken September 13, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Park in front of the Municipal Theater looking north from Nguyen Hue street to Rue Catinat (now Dong Khoi) The Municipal theater is seen in the left hand corner. The park is completely walled in because of construction of the Saigon Metro. "Then" Souvenir book of Saigon from 1922, (photographer unknown) "Now" taken September 13, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Peuguot dealer Établissements Jean-Comte at 34 boulevard Norodom in the late colonial period (unknown photographer), and Diamond Plaza today

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Bank Saigon Building Circa 1940s (front view) photographer unknown. "Now" taken September 18, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Bank Saigon Building Circa 1940s photographer unknown. "Now" The original corner entrance is now closed. "Now" taken September 18, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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The inauguration of the Pétrus Ký statue (now in the HCMC Fine Arts Museum) by “master sculptor Constant Roux” in the gardens behind the Cathedral on 19 December 1927 (photographer unknown). And on the same spot today, the 1978 memorial to a French sniper attack on a crowd which had gathered behind the Cathedral to listen to a broadcast of the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945.

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The Archbishop's Palace-Originally built in 1790 for the French Bishop of Adran, it was relocated in 1946 to its current site and last renovated in 1980, rue des Moïs, rue Richaud (Now: Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q.3), Circa 1940s, photographer unknown. "Now" photo taken September 19, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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The “Rainbow Bridge,” formerly the Pont des Messageries maritimes, by Gustav Eiffel. It is now a walking bridge which joins Saigon's District 1 and District 4. Notice the horse and buggy's on the bridge. "Then" postcard photographer unknown circa: 1920s. "Now" photo taken September 18, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Japanese troops entering Saigon in July 1941 along rue d'Adran and the same view along Ho Tung Mau (D1) today.

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The junction of rue Catinat/Dong Khoi with rue d’Espagne/Le Thanh Ton in 1950 (photographer unknown) and today.

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"Cathedral Square, statue of Bishop Pigneau of Behaine." The statue has been replaced with one of the virgin Mary. "Then" post card Circa 1950's Photographer unknown "Now" taken September 18, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Grumman F8F "Bearcats" suppled by the United States to the French Air Force being towed along rue Paul Blanchy (between Norodom boulevard and rue Chasseloup-Laubat) en route from the port to Tân Sơn Nhứt Airbase in Saigon, 1951 (LIFE Magazine). And the same section of Hai Bà Trưng street (between Lê Duẩn and Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai streets) today.

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Street demonstrations against the President of South Vietnam-Presidential palace; Saigon "Then" photographer, Sully François 1963 "Now" taken September 17, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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213 Tu Do in 1965 (photographer unknown) and the same view of Đong Khoi street today. 

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A Robert W Kelley Life magazine image of Me Linh square during the February 1965 coup, and the same view today. In the background of the "Then" image is the recently demolished BGI warehouse.

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Shophouses on Le Thanh Ton street between Pasteur and Cong Ly (now Nam Ky Khoi Nghia) streets in 1966 by Mikey Walters' father, and today.

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Hai Ba Trung street between Lam Sơn square and Lê Thanh Ton in 1969 (photographer unknown) and the same location in 2015, with the gate of the former Manufacture de l'Opium visible in both pictures.

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A 1960s shot (photographer unknown) of Bạch Đằng wharf showing the Customs Directorate and behind it the Port Directorate. And the same view today, the Port Directorate having been destroyed to make way for the abandoned rusting hulk which is Tòa cao ốc 34 Tôn Đức Thắng.

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The giant has been taken over: Caravelle Hotel in 1960s, back when it was the tallest and most modern building in Vietnam. “On every big story I have covered these past 50 years, there has always been a favorite press corps hotel, from the Constellation in Vientiane in the late 1950s, to the Caravelle or the Continental in Saigon … to the Al Rashid in Baghdad in the first Gulf War to the Palestine in the second. These places became our homes through shelling and sieges, and where we bonded or broke up." -journalist Peter Arnett "Then" Photographer unknown. "Now" September 6, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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Hotel Continental Palace "Then" Photographer, Jack Garofalo 1974 "Now" taken September 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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A soldier of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of North Vietnam sitting on the steps of the National Assembly building (Opera house) in Saigon, after April 30, 1975. Background, Hotel Continental Palace- "Then" photographer, Françoise Demulder "Now" taken September 17, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

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View of the park in front of the Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Opera House. Photographer: Stu Einstein (2006) Both "Then and "Now" photos were taken from the top step of the theater. I actually watched as they cut down the huge trees on the left side. It was a sad day. The construction project seen, which has totally encompassed the park, is Line 1 of the new underground metro. September 10, 2016. Photo by Paul Blizard

Republished with permission by Tim Doling, the author of the walking tours guidebook Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (The Gioi Publishing House, Hanoi, 2014). For more articles about Vietnam’s history, visit his website, Historic Vietnam.

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