Wednesday, 30 March 2016


If the streets of a city tell its stories, in Vietnam the name of those streets tell the tale of a nation. One side, of course- it's glorious triumphs and heroic failures- but each hero or heroine is connected, no matter how haphazardly their names have been superimposed upon the city plan.

Beneath is a 1968 American ordnance survey, made around the time of the Tet Offensive. I used it as a base for earlier explorations of Hue. I've recently been working on a stylised, monochrome map of the city and used this as a base, comparing this fifty-year-old map to the current map of the city available on google. Many of the streets have changed their name, in keeping with the change of regime. 

Below is an incomplete list of some of Huế's streets, alongside the name the same street has on the earlier, American military map when Huế was part of the former Republic of [South] Vietnam. The plan is to get an entry up for every street, which will attempt to reference the character/ geographic feature that gives the name to each street, and to use this post as a hub for those related posts. 

Ba Triệu
A female warrior in 3rd Century Vietnam who resisted the Chinese occupation. Said to be nine feet tall with 3 foot breasts.
Bến Nghé
(Phạm Hồng Thái)
A River that flows through HCMC.
Đong Đa
Đong Đa
Site of the battle between against Chinese occupation in 1788, one of Vietnam's greatest military victories
Hai Bà Trưng
(Trưng Trắc)
Sisters who resisted Emperor Wu and the Han Chinese around 40 AD.
Hàm Nghi
not visible
Emperor of Vietnam for one year, 1884-5, before being deposed by the French. Attempted to lead insurrection from Laos, betrayed and exiled to Algeria. There is a Hàm Nghi school but it is on TQT street.
Hùng Vương
(Duy Tân)
Title of the ancient kings who ruled Vietnam in antiquity (c.2-3000BC)
Lê Duấn
(Thịnh Minh Thế)
General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party and its first post reunification leader
Lê Lai
Lê Lai
One of Lê Lơi's generals
Lê Lợi
Lê Lợi
15th Century rebel against Chinese rule and founder of the Lê dynasty
Lê Quý Đôn
(Phan Thanh Giản)
18th Century savant and encyclopediast
Lý Thường Kiệt
Lý Thường Kiệt
General of the Lý dynasty during the 11th C. Penned Vietnams' first declaration of independence. There is a Lý Thường Kiệt school though not on this street, it is on Nguyễn Tri Phương, though there is also a campus on Bà Triêu.
Ngô Quyền
Ngô Quyền
10th Century Vietnamese general, decisively defeated Han dynasty and founded the Ngô dynasty
Nguyên Huệ
Nguyên Huệ
Leader of the Tây Sơn rebellion against Lê dynasty and Nguyễn lords
Nguyễn Sinh Cung
(just 551)
Birth name of Hồ Chí Minh, father of Communist Vietnam.
Nguyễn Thái Học
Nguyễn Thái Học
Vietnamese Nationalist executed by the French in 1930
Nguyễn Tri Phương
Nguyễn Tri Phương
19th Century Military commander who fought against the French.

Revolutionary and member of the Indochinese Communist Party. Executed by French in 1941.
Military commander during the second and third  Mongol invasions, 1279 and 1287. Married the adoptive daughter of Trần Quốc Toản.
Phạm Văn Đồng
One of Uncle Ho's closest lieutenants, Prime Minister of North Vietnam from 1955 and, following reunification, the whole of Vietnam until 1987. Died 2000.
Tố Hữu
(no street)
Revolutionary poet and Politburo member, died 2002.
Trân Cao Vân
Trân Cao Vân
19th Century Mandarin who attempted to orchestrate resistance against colonial rule by France. Executed.
Trần Quang Khai
(Trần Văn Nhung)
Third son of the first Trần emperor, military leader during Mongol invasion during 13th Century and inventor of the Dance of Flowers
Trần Quốc Toản
not visible
A noble lord and member of the Trần dynasty, assembled an army at the age of 16 to fight the second Mongol invasion. There is a school named after him, though it is on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street.
Tuy Lý Vương
No street
19TH Century poet
Võ Thị Sáu
Schoolgirl guerilla and nationalist martyr executed by the French at the age of 19.

There's also the possibility of the narratives attached to each character connecting to one another, just as the streets are linked. For example, one can follow the street named after Vietnam's first kings and find oneself upon the street of the 19th Century Imperial general who fought the French ... before eventually meeting a school girl guerilla, by way of a river that flows far away in the south.

It also serves as a possible table of correspondences to randomly generate the addresses required for a graphic score for Huế.
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