sidewalk laboratory


We have found rich historical records to give us insight into Ho Chi Minh City’s sidewalks. Viewed as relatively young, the 300 year old city has always been an international city of migrants. The sidewalks were originally built by the French colonialists in the 1860s to create a Paris in Asia. Personal accounts, government regulations, and photographs reveal the surprising resilience of current practices of sidewalk life through various political regimes. Also fascinating in the city’s history is how the two original towns which merged into present day HCMC, Chinese Cholon and colonial Saigon, have different urban morphology, architecture, and economies which still impact the use of sidewalks today.


photo credit: Crespin, L. Souvenirs de la Cochinchine et du Cambodge, 1922.