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Sidewalk CityRemapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City$
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Annette Miae Kim

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226119229

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226119366.001.0001

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Tropical Paris and Chinatown

Tropical Paris and Chinatown

The History and Resilience of Ho Chi Minh City’s Sidewalks

Chapter:
(p.28) 2 Tropical Paris and Chinatown
Source:
Sidewalk City
Author(s):

Annette Miae Kim

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226119366.003.0002

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s history shows us how sidewalk practices have regularly not followed the plan and are not dictated by the built environment. Present-day HCMC started as two distinctly separate towns 300 years ago: Saigon, the headquarters of the French colony Indochine, and Cholon, the larger and thriving Chinese diaspora trading port town. The city has gone through a remarkable succession of political and economic regime changes, particularly in the last 70 years: colonial, post-colonial nationalist, communist, and market transition. Historic photographs and accounts reveal that sidewalk space has always been a recreational and street vending space and not solely a transportation corridor despite the urban planning regulations of various regimes. Its urban history also shows that HCMC has been a city of immigrants from its inception, an unspoken narrative. Furthermore, the fact that both the Haussman-esque boulevards in Saigon and the narrow feng-shui sidewalk designs of Cholon host a vibrant sidewalk life counters behavioural determinism and colonial theory which presume physical space has strong power to control populations.

Keywords:   Cholon, Saigon, Indochine, urban history, Vietnam, French colonialism, urban planning, Chinese diaspora, immigrant, street vending

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