On July 11, 1995, the United States normalized relations with Vietnam. But signs of a new country, one closely allied to western capitalism, were increasingly visible in the early 1990s, especially after the U.S. lifted its trade embargo in 1994.
As diplomatic and economic shifts occurred, the streets of Vietnamese cities changed too. There was an influx of new hotels and skyscrapers. Ads for western products popped up on buses and storefronts.
With these physical changes came an improved economy. Vietnam experienced approximately 8 percent GDP growth through most of the 1990s. Poverty declined too, and the country's poverty rate is now lower than China and India.
But there were cultural backlashes too. In Hanoi, hundreds of shops and restaurants with western brand names had advertisements ripped off or covered up. The Vietnamese communist party cracked down on what it saw as cultural vices around the same time, publicly destroying pornographic literature and imagery.
Below, via Reuters, a look back at the suddenly globalizing country and its changing streets in the mid-1990s:
The region’s “chemical genies” of the early 20th century were heralded as reaching into the future to create a more abundant life for all. Instead, they deprived future generations of their health and well-being.