Urbanist Hanoi

BackHeritage » Hanoi » [Video] Travel Back in Time to Late 1970s Hanoi When Bicycles Ruled the Streets

[Video] Travel Back in Time to Late 1970s Hanoi When Bicycles Ruled the Streets

The following footage of Hanoi from 1975 to 1980 reminds us that, less than 50 years ago, the capital was tranquil, slow-moving and unpolluted.

The video shows what Hanoi was like right after the Second Indochina War and Vietnam's reunification. In contrast to present-day Hanoi, which is clogged with fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, polluted, densely populated, and full of clamorous honking and motorbike engines, Hanoi in the late 1970s was a much calmer place altogether. 

Life in the capital was relatively leisurely and unhurried, though of course, the economic conditions were incredibly tough. Infrastructure was in ruins and agriculture was failing. Most people got around by bicycle or on foot and dressed in plain clothing. Remnants of traditional, rural life — such as buffalo riding, nón lá, or vendors carrying poles and baskets — still pervaded city streets.

Although 1975 marked Vietnam’s official liberation from western colonizers, signs of Euro-American modernity lingered on. Trains, railroads and green spaces physically embodied western influence on local life. Likewise, while that year's victory brought an end to the century-long, anti-colonial struggle, the revolutionary spirit remained imprinted on the capital's landscapes: local men wore the National Liberation Front’s distinctive green hats, while large posters and billboards inscribed with political propaganda were prevalent on the streets.

Take a look at the video below to experience a much calmer, but also economically ruined, Hanoi between 1975 and 1980. We've shared a few older videos recently, but this one is one of the most profoundly moving. The (at first slightly odd) background music may play a part: 

[Video via Go Vietnam's Youtube Channel]