Blacksmith Street, Hanoi

The New York Times features a well-written article by Seth Mydans about Nguyen Phuong Hung, the last blacksmith on Blacksmith Street.

“Once I am gone the street will have no meaning anymore,” he said. “Blacksmith Street will be only a name.”

That has been the fate of almost all the 36 narrow streets in Hanoi’s tree-shaded Ancient Quarter, each of them named for the guilds that once controlled them — Fan Street, China Bowl Street, Sweet Potato Street, Conical Hat Street.

There is nothing like this little corner of the urban past anywhere else in Vietnam. Only four of the streets have retained something of their original businesses, said Nguyen Vinh Phuc, a leading historian of Hanoi.

There are still jewelry shops on Silver Street, sweets and pastries on Sugar Street, votive papers and toys on Votive Paper Street and pots and pans on Tin Street.

“Of course, when nobody sells the product any more, then all this history will disappear,” said Mr. Phuc, 84. “I’m an old man. I feel sad to see us lose these ancient streets.”

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at SaintExpedite@frozenheads.net
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