truong tien bridge

Hue of the Past: Photos of the Imperial City in the 1960s

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Flickr user Manhhai has an impressive photo collection of Hue built on images taken by US soldiers during the 1960s.

old hue welcome sign
An old sign welcoming arrivers to Hue city by the tourist office


The photos give a better idea of day to day Hue life through the visitors gaze. Scenes of day to day life along the Huong river, the city’s southside as well as from within the citadel.


Hue bridge
Under the bridge – a large number of people used to live on boats like these on the Huong River.


some of those things are very different from now…



Huong river photos


whereas others have changed little.


vietnam at the market


Most of the pictures were taken before the 1968 Tet offensive. The battles during the Tet offensive were some of Vietnam’s first urban warfare. While most were short lived, the siege of Hue went on for over a month. The battle mutilated Hue, leaving hundreds of buildings destroyed and ultimately changing some aspects of Hue forever. These photos contribute to documenting Hue life before that period.


Hue school 1960
A typical classroom setting in 1960s Hue.


The war wasn’t the only factor in contributing to change in Vietnam. Economic growth and mass urbanisation that has continued since the late 1980s has very much changed the cityscapes of Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Judging by the familiarity of the photos here, Hue has managed to maintain many of the aesthetics its reputation has been built upon.


Nghênh Lương Đình Hue citadel
Nghênh Lương Đình – the dock formerally exclusive to the King.


The photos also document a Vietnam only 2 decades out of French colonial rule. It was also only twenty years since Hue, once the home of the Nguyen Dynasty, had witnessed the abdication of Vietnam’s last emperor Bao Dai.


GI Hue war Vietnam photos
American soldiers take a jeep through one of the citadel’s 9 entrances.

Aerial photos of Hue

The collection not only includes scenes of Hue street life but also various aerial shots in and around Hue. One photo shows the now non-existent Tay Loc airstrip within the Citadel. A small runway that was built by the French for Bao Dai and used later by the US air force during the war.


Tay loc Airport
The former Tay loc airstrip.


There’s also a shot of Tinh Tam lakes which once served as a leisure area for tired emperors looking for a short reprieve from court life.


tinh tam lake aerial shot photos
Beautiful aerial shot of Tịnh Tâm lakes


There’s also a fantastic aerial shot of Hue city including com hen island.


Hue City 1960 aerial shot photos
Hue City. Where everything changes and stays the same.


Manhhai’s collection of Hue photos can be found on flickr here. A dig around on his account of over 10,000 images (here) will bring up a vast array of photos relating to Vietnam reaching back to the French colonial. Enjoy hunting!


truong tien bridge
Cyclists over the Truong Tien bridge.

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