50 Years After The Gulf Of Tonkin Incident, Vietnam Then And Now

Fifty years after the controversial Gulf of Tonkin incident, which became the pretext for America’s 10-year involvement in the Vietnam War, Vietnam's biggest city, then known as Saigon, has gone through political, economic and social turmoil to become what it is today: Ho Chi Minh City. 

Under the name Saigon, the city was the capital of the French colony of Cochin-China, which was part of French Indochina, the colony encompassing all of today's Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which the French left in 1954. Saigon was then the capital of independent South Vietnam from 1955 to 1975, under a government propped up by American arms and money that was fighting the Communist North Vietnamese. 

In  1975, as the Americans fled Saigon, North Vietnamese troops entered the city, which was renamed the following year Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the founder of Communist Vietnam. With the opening of Vietnam to a market economy, while still nominally a Communist country, Ho Chi Minh City has turned into a capitalist metropolis of 9 million with bustling traffic and nonstop activity, as these before-and-after images show.

 

Vietnam War Perched on a tank, soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) go through the gates of the South Vietnamese presidential palace, 30 April 1975 in Saigon, the South Vietnamese government's last stronghold.  Getty Images Presidential Palace Vietnam Honor guards military members march during a ceremony to welcome the visit of the Laos' President Choummaly Sayasone at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi April 23, 2009.  Reuters Vietnam War A photo taken 03 May 1975 shows PRG forces seizing control of the presidential palace in Saigon, after the fall of the city.  Getty Images Reunification Palace Vietnam Reunification Palace (Vietnamese: Dinh Thống Nhất) formerly known as Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập) built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a historic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngo Viet Thu as the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the site of the official handover of power during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. It was then known as Independence Palace, and an NVA tank crashed through its gates, as recorded by Neil Davis.  Wikimedia/ Eustaquio Santimano Vietnam War A photo taken April 30, 1975, shows a soldier of the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) surveying the National Assembly building in Saigon, after the fall of the city. The war in Vietnam ended 30 April 1975 as the government in Saigon announced its unconditional surrender to the Vietcong.  Getty Images Continental Saigon The iconic Hotel Continental Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City, 2014.  Wikimedia Vietnam War ) In this file picture taken 26 February 1968, a South Vietnamese soldier rides his bike near the destroyed market of Kien Hoa, after a North Vietnamese attack, part of the Vietcong Tet offensive, during the Vietnam war.  Getty Images Vietnam market Vegetable sellers wait for customers at a market in Bao Loc city, near Vietnam's southern commercial hub Ho Chi Minh city February 23, 2011.  REUTERS/Kham

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