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[Photos] What Life in Hanoi Was Like in the 1890s

Can you imagine daily life before electricity, light bulbs, plastics, refrigerators, antibiotics, automobiles and telephones?

We take these inventions for granted, rarely stopping to wonder what the world, and thus our experiences and thoughts, would be like without them. Today, it would be impossible to avoid them in Hanoi even if one wanted to, so the closest we can get to that alternate reality is to look at old photos.

Rue Paul Bert, now Trang Tien Street was Hanoi's most elegant colonial street at the time.

These images taken by French photographer Raphaël Moreau from 1890 to 1895 give a glimpse of what the capital was like as the world was teetering on the edge of a century of momentous innovations that would forever change the human race. Moreau owned a business on Dong Khanh Avenue (now Hang Bai) in Hanoi back then.

Rickshaws and simple sampans represent the common means of travel, while the city's skyline rises little higher than two-story colonial homes. Neither the rich grasping extravagant fans to parade down the streets nor the commoners clamoring along the banks of the Red River lead lives that we can possibly relate to.

Have a look at these photos and reflect on how drastic the human experience has changed in 130 years, and the incredible qualities of the human species that allow us to adapt in only a few generations.

Hoan Kiem Lake complete with its Statue of Liberty.

Thai Ha Hamlet in current-day Hanoi's Dong Da District.

A procession down the streets of Hanoi.

Giay Village, better known among Vietnamese as Ke Buoi, home to a famous traditional paper-making industry.

People along the banks of the Red River.

The section of the Red River that the Long Bien Bridge now spans.

[Photos via RedsVN]