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Saigon Tax Trade Center and its 134 years of development

Sunday, August 24, 2014, 10:05 GMT+7

The Saigon Tax Trade Center has a 134-year history of foundation and development but it will bite the dust soon to give way to a skyscraper and part of a metro line station.

>> Vendors at Tax trade center in shock

>> Shop owners rush to clear stocks before Saigon Tax Trade Center’s October shutdown

All shop owners have been told to move out of the trade center by the end of September to make way for the construction of a 40-story building, to be constructed in the first quarter of next year.

At the request of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, 500 square meters out of 15,000 square meters of the center’s gross floor area will be set aside for the construction of a part of a metro line station.

The committee has required the area to be handed over to the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Railway Management Board for building the ventilation structures of the metro station, one of 14 stations of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, by October.

The planned subway, 19.7km long, is the first-ever to be constructed in Vietnam that will run from District 1 through Binh Thanh District, District 2, District 9 and Thu Duc District in Ho Chi Minh City before reaching Di An Town in neighboring Binh Duong Province. It is estimated to cost US$2.49 billion.

Tuoi Tre News would like to present some photos summarizing the developmental history of the Saigon Tax Trade Center.


Founded in 1880, Les Grands Magazins Charner (GMC), the old name of Saigon Tax Trade Center, along with other French style architecture including Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, and Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon (now the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee headquarters), was considered a part of the glory of Saigon (former name of Ho Chi Minh City) at that time.


In the 1940s, the three-level GMC building, which was a mix of French and Asian architectural styles, comprised a clock tower of Western style on top as well as windows of East Asian style. It had stood on two of Saigon’s well-known boulevards, Bonard (the old name of Le Loi Street) and Charner (the old name of Nguyen Hue Street), serving as a shopping mall which sold expensive goods for high-class people.


In 1942, besides adding one more floor, the owner of the GMC building decided to shut down the Western style clock tower on top and put the “GMC” banner on the roof-top so it could be seen easier.


The photo taken in 1948 features a watch store in the GMC building. The products included fountain pens, cameras, silk, handicrafts, jewelry, gramophones, and household items, which were mainly imported from England, France and other Western countries and sold to French merchants and Indians, Chinese and Saigonese who spoke French.


In the 1960s, GMC was renamed Tax Plaza by the Trade Association. It was broken up into small areas for hundreds of merchants to rent and run their own businesses.


The Tax Plaza in the period of 1960-1970 when it was considered one of Saigon’s busiest shopping centers. The mall attracted more foreigners, especially American shoppers. The merchandise included clothes, handicrafts, cameras, watches and electronic items, which were imported from Japan, the U.S., and Taiwan.


On November 12, 1981, the Tax Plaza was again renamed, this time the Ho Chi Minh City Department Store and put under the management of the HCMC Trade Service. The period of the 1990s was the store’s most prosperous time as it welcomed a huge number of customers.  In the 1990s, the store enjoyed prosperous business and received a large number of foreign shoppers, mainly from Europe. Due to the very successful trading activities with partners from Russia, this place was also called the "Russian Market." 


On January 19, 1998, after a short time of façade refurbishment, the building was named “Thuong Xa Tax” (Saigon Tax Trade Center) which it has kept until now.


In 2003, the Saigon Tax Trade Center was upgraded, becoming a higher, modern building which officially began operations on April 26 in the same year.


The Saigon Tax Trade Center welcomed Christmas Eve in 2007 with its charming look which was decorated with Christmas trees, reindeer, and thousands of sparkling lights. The place attracted a number of foreign tourists and local people to come and take pictures. 


The Saigon Tax Trade Center still keeps its French architectural features including the banister in the shape of a laurel flower, the French tile floor, and France’s unofficial national symbol, the "Gaulois" (Gallic Roosters) cockerel.

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