The old quarter of Hanoi in 1959 from all angles
- on Aug 1, 2020       By: BN
No one can say they know everything about a city even if they have lived there for long enough. But one thing for certain is that from his camera in complicity with the sensitivity of the man, he could immortalise the place with his unique shots. Rev Miklós, a great Hungarian photographer (1906-1998), president of the Association of Hungarian Photographers, had arrived in Hanoi in 1959. This opportunity allowed him, during walks in the central part of the capital, to capture the vivid scenes of the streets and alleys of authentic Hanoi more than fifty years ago.
The image of Dong Xuan market, one of the oldest in Hanoi, still running, bustling.
A view of the crossroads between Trang Tien and Hang Bai streets, very close to Hoan Kiem Lake (the Sword Lake)
At the time, we did not yet see the emergence of motorcycles in Hanoi. Bicycles, rickshaws, buses and walking were the main modes of travel in the city.
A propaganda board on agricultural development by Hoan Kiem Lake
The French, with their arrival in Tonkin in 1872, called it "Sail street". In the 19th century, this street experienced the expansion of Cantonese residing on Hang Ngang Street. A Cantonese town hall was also established there. The street was given the Vietnamese name Hang Buom in 1954.
Hang Buom Street is now part of the eponymous district of Hoan Kiem. Almost three hundred metres long in an East-west direction, it intersects Dao Duy Tu and Ma May streets in the East and Hang Ngang, Hang Duong and Lan Ong streets in the West. The main products offered for sale are all kinds of sweets and drinks. Visitors will also be able to taste the roasts, especially based on pork and poultry, noodle soup, Vietnamese salad...
In the picture, Hang Bac Street or Silverware street
Hang Bac Street or Silverware Street was known by the French name "Changers street" towards the end of the 19th century before being renamed Hang Bac in 1945. Measuring about five hundred metres, Hang Bac has one end overlooking Hang Ngang, Hang Dao and Hang Bo streets, the rest on Hang Mam Street. Located just three hundred metres from Hoan Kiem Lake, it invites you to stroll through the world of traditional crafts of a thousand and one colours. Visitors will find a number of gold and silver jewellery items here. Hang Bac Street was, in fact, the most prosperous of all the craft guilds that grew during the 11 – 12th centuries, surrounding the Thang Long Citadel.
A grandfather serves his grandchild on the sidewalk in the old quarter
Kids watching a movie at the travelling cinema in the street
Seen from above, the bustling flower market in Hang Khoai Street, which the French called "Tubers street" until 1945
The old quarter of Hanoi pointed to the urban city steeped in a thousand-year-old history that sprang up around the Thang Long imperial city, built in the 11th century under the Ly dynasty. A major place of commercial activity of the time, it brought together traders and craftsmen from various trades who were concentrated in specialised groups. Thus, the streets and alleys of the Hanoi district were transformed into thirty-six corporations, depending on the profession exercised. Hence its name which still exists "Hanoi’s thirty-six streets and corporations". Over time, it is rare today to find streets preserving their historical character as most have changed activities. You can still feel the almost untouched atmosphere of the distant city characterised by the artisanal and cultural values to which the generations of Hanoi are attached.
The old quarter is undoubtedly one of Hanoi's top must-sees for visitors who come to lose themselves in its unique atmosphere. Stroll along the streets steeped in the traces of time to smell the special atmosphere, find beautiful memories and feast on delicious dishes, whether in a good restaurant or a street canteen. In this craft museum in the heart of the capital, you will come across old houses, nice shops and cafes, exhibitions, old temples and pagodas…
Visiting the old quarter of Hanoi is always an emotional stopover whenever you come across a building with a yellow wall or a red-tiled roof with typical green windows.
Photo: Rév Miklós
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