Saigoneer

BackHeritage » Saigon » [Photos] The Frenetic Energy of 1960s Chợ Lớn

[Photos] The Frenetic Energy of 1960s Chợ Lớn

Comic books and bread, cigarettes and rickshaw rides: Saigon has always reveled in the exchange of goods and services for money. 

Modern-day Saigon is considered the nation's most globally influenced and commerce-focused city, and it's been that way for quite some time. In the 1960s, as these photos reveal, people were concerned with making and then spending a buck via traditional and emerging means. Everything from imported sodas to roasted ducks to fresh produce shipped up from the delta was on sale. The busy streets may not have been home to as many international outlets as today, but the spirit currently embodied by MUJI, GS25, Burger King and Uniqlo was very much thriving decades ago.

When you look at these photos taken by Anton Cistaro, a stationed American solder, you can practically hear people calling out prices. And one imagines that right after posing for the photos, many of the people followed up with "now I have to go, I have so much to do."

Travel via rickshaw when it was still legal in Saigon.

Children pose in front of a rather tiny car.

Back before the sidewalks were paved.

Operating a ferry was once a much more lucrative industry.

Midday activity on the streets.

People transported poultry in the same woven baskets that are used today.

Posing for a photo in the market.

Rickshaw drivers resting between rides.

Chợ Lớn's vibrant storefronts. 

Unmistakable Chinese script on the signage.

Batman balloons for sale. 

Just like today, all types of vehicles share the road.

The ramshackle housing along the river.

Loading a boat up for shipping.

Vendors outside the market.

Busy market scene.

The baby she is holding doesn't seem as thrilled for the photo as she is.

Delicious-looking bread.

Unpacking goods to sell at the market.

A typical market moment.

Fresh veggies!

Empty baskets when everything is sold.

Eager vendors awaiting their goods.

In the era before helmet laws.

Shopping for festive items.

Cigarettes and magazines sold conveniently side-by-side.

Children playing in front of a cigarette vendor.

Movie poster.

Cages for pet birds.

Books for sale.

Colorful soft drinks.

Roasted ducks.

Another day in the neighborhood.

Nice place for a snooze.

Drying seafood in the sun.

[Photos by Flickr user manhhai]