2. Residential area of Hanoi in the 19th century (Continue)
West of the lake was Hang Theu Street or Embroiders Street - modern - day Hang Trong Street. Around the lake were many gardens, areca palms and bamboo trees shading the water, which created the feeling of being in the countryside especially in late afternoon.
The former military site in the east, including military training field, the target practice field, the elephant stable, and the martial arts field were destroyed. Hang Tra Street or Hang Che Street in Huong Minh hamlet was a thinly-populated street. According to Montalambert’s map of 1885, inside the eastern dike along Ly Thai To Street there were mulberry and rice fields and outside the dike there were ponds and swamps stretching to the river bank.
By the 19th century Sword Lake itself also shrunk in size. Since it no longer functioned as a naval maneuvers site, it was no longer maintained. Emperor Thieu Tri on his imperial journey to the North in 1842 visited to the lake and commented on the many changes: “What is recorded in A Book on Unified Dai Nam is not quite exact. For example, the To Lich River and Sword Lake in Northern Citadel, what I see there is only a small canal and a small swamp. How could they have been places for soldiers to exercise?” (7-XXIV:125) Sword Lake was then an unsanitary place - the city dump. (157)
“In the morning on the lake bank a number of people washed their faces.” (167:180) “Women went there to wash dishes and vegetables. They waded in the water or sat on their heels on a board over the lake to wash vegetables and rice.” (138:130)
Apart from the eastern commercial and Hoan Kiem areas, other residential areas in the west and the south were thinly populated, and the inhabitants lived mainly on agriculture. According to the 1836 report of Ha Ninh Governor Dang Van Thiem, men left town to escape military conscription. Sometimes there were only three or four people left in a hamlet or precinct. (7-XVIII:351) There were very few buildings of the state administration in this area, except the Temple of Literature and the Examination Grounds. The Temple of Literature is an historic architectural and cultural assemblage. It was renovated in Gia Long’s administration in 1802, and the Poet’s Pavilion was constructed. In the Nguyen dynasty the regional examinations were held in the Examination Grounds of Hanoi, which is now the site of the National Library. In 1845, during Emperor Trieu Tri’s reign, the Examination Camp was surrounded by brick walls with the circumference of more than 555 meters, including 21 halls and residences.” (6-III:168)
Streets and houses in the area of the Temple of Literature and Examination Grounds were not as crowded as in the eastern commercial area. There were mostly cottages, (209:45) scattered among gardens, hamlets and surrounded by fields, villages and ponds and lakes, i.e., it was a type of countryside within the city. There were temples and pagodas in almost every hamlet and precinct. It is estimated that there were 300 temples in Hanoi in late 19th century. (137:179)
The contrast between the administrative and residential area and other regions of Hanoi in the 19th century basically remained the same until Hanoi became a French Concession in 1888 after which new buildings and road systems were constructed.
Officially established in the 11th century, prospering since the 17th century, Thang Long-Hanoi had been the largest city and the political-economic center of the country. Through the vicissitudes of three centuries -from its role as the capital of the entire country, to a bustling metropolis, and finally as a large provincial town- Thang Long-Hanoi continued to develop as a medieval feudal city. However, due to its fundamental political-economic framework, Thang Long’s development was not consistent. There were marked differences in the development of different parts of residential areas and there was a natural geographical diversity (rivers, ponds and swamps) so that its physical evolution was not identical, either. The trend of this developmental period was that the role of the Royal citadel took a back seat to its commercial role. The eastern commercial area and the Red River-To Lich river system remained the core of the city’s economic activities.
Tags cho bài viết