Saigon's Old Street Names
Quang Ngoc Tran
         For more than a century, Vietnam has suffered a lot of changes politically, administratively, culturally, socially...even in the names of the streets. Many streets have changed their names twice, thrice and the names of the Nguyễn dynasty's heroes have completely disappeared. Some overseas Vietnamese returning home have difficulties in finding the houses they once lived before. Those who are born after 1975 cannot even figure out former names of streets, let alone know histories or biographies of these people. As for me, thanks to memories that have been engrained in me since childhood and my inquisitiveness about history, recalling a few old street names would be my contribution to readers. Suggestions from people from all around the world are needed for future updates.

         I was born at Dr. Lâm Văn Bon's Obstetrical Clinic at 205 Frère Louis, close to the Thái Bình Market in the 3rd Saigon district, during the Indochinese War and nine months before the Korean War, at a time when Vietnam was a French colony with many street names in French.

         I grew up in Saigon at 148 Col. Boudonnet Street--on the side of the railroad station--which later became Lê Lai Street. Col. Boudonnet who belonged to the 2nd Colonial Infantry Division was the Commander of the Annamite Infantry Division. He passed away in France in 1914. Since the level of this street was lower than that of Frère Louis, Phan Thanh Giản and Frères Guillerault Streets, it was always flooded after heavy rains. Once rain ended, along the walls that separated the railroad station and the street, crickets came out of their holes to avoid suffocation. I hunted until dark and caught three or four of them before going home. And my mother would yell at me because of my tardiness.

         In 1945 because allied air planes dropped bombs on the railroads to prevent trains from supplying the Japanese, my parents "evacuated" the area and moved in front of the Huyện Sĩ Church on the Frères Guillerault Street before resettling in an alley at 176/11 Col. Boudonnet Street.

        Please read the rest in Forum 7: FACES OF THE WAR.
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