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Rare Film Shots Depict a Fast-Growing Saigon in 1996

Change was in the air in 1996, and the streets purred with development.

The effects of đổi mới a decade earlier, coupled with the 1994 lifting of America's trade embargo and offical joining of ASEAN in 1995, ushered in palpable optimism throughout the city. While poverty, malnutition and disease still threatened, hope manifested itself via vehicles laden with commodities rumbling along the city's dirt roads.

A teenager tugs a tricycle heavy with goods past the Chợ Lớn Bus Station.

Taken from the archives of German photo agency Ullstein Bild, these photos of Saigon streets in 1996 seem to exemplify what it means to be a developing nation. Construction and commerce dominate the scenes and everyone seems in rush to get somewhere, do something or meet someone. A few familiar landmarks stick out amidst the tremendously 1990s attire.

Have a peek below:

Aquatic activity on the Saigon River.

People busy traveling and trading along Lê Quang Sung near the Chợ Lớn Bus Station.

A bus departs from the bus station with luggage, bicycle and ducks safely stowed atop the roof. 

Doing some cyclo-assisted shopping near the bus station entrance.

A cyclo driver waits for his next passenger.

The analog billboards in Thủ Thiêm are quite frankly far more appealing than the glitchy digital monstrosity currently occupying the place. 

A man waves while floating past the humble homes that once stood in Thủ Thiêm. 

Effortlessly cool while piloting a boat on the Saigon River.

The gas station seen at the Trung Chánh intersection here is now the District 12 Cultural Center. 

Vegetables are always fresh and on sale.

Workers in downtown Saigon working to erect a large building that is likely showing its age by now.

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