Họa Đồ Saigon Và Vùng Phụ Cận. / [Map of Saigon and its Suburbs.]
23.75 x 18 in (60.325 x 45.72 cm)
1 : 25000
This is a rare 1968 map of Saigon and its suburbs, issued in Saigon at the height of the Tet Offensive, when the city was under siege by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.
Saigon c. 1968This map is a clear representation of the geography of Saigon, situated on the Saigon River and its tributaries with two historical urban centers at Cholon towards bottom-left and old Saigon towards right-center. Cholon was historically inhabited by overseas Chinese and was the largest concentration of the Hoa (Chinese) ethnic minority in Vietnam. Although they were important for commerce with the outside world, the Chinese population was often looked at with suspicion and even hatred by local rulers. As a threatened minority, the Hoa cooperated with outside forces, namely the French and Americans, as a means of protection, which caused them to be targeted again once Vietnam was reunified in 1975.
As for Saigon, the pre-existing city dates back centuries but grew significantly under the Nguyen lords in the 18th century. It was renovated by the French starting in the 1860s to craft it into an ideal colonial city, with a set of new structures including an opera house, a cathedral, and a palace, initially built for the King of Cambodia but later to become the home of Saigon's colonial governors (it was damaged in an assassination attempt against Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960s and rebuilt as 'Independence Hall').
Also worth noting are the three large park areas shaded green: from left-to-right the Phú Thọ Horse Racing Ground, Tao Dan Park, and the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Finally, the Tân Sơn Nhứt Airfield (now Tân Sơn Nhứt International Airport) is very prominent towards top-center.
Wider ContextThis map was published in 1968, the same year as the surprise Tet Offensive by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. The offensive targeted Saigon with the intention of weakening the South Vietnamese government and launching guerrilla attacks on symbolically important sites rather than capture the city. Running battles in the streets raged from the end of January through early February, with major battles at the Airfield (at that point primarily operating as an air base for the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces), the Horse Racing Ground, and Cholon District, where many civilians were killed in the fighting and in U.S. airstrikes.
In late April and May, a second attack by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces was launched on Saigon, especially the western and southern parts of the city. Again, the attacks were repulsed with the attackers suffering heavy losses. In the end, although Saigon remained in South Vietnamese government hands, the ability of Communist forces to launch so many attacks on and inside the capital dealt a serious psychological blow, and Communist forces continued to control much of the surrounding countryside. Cholon and some other areas were badly damaged in the fighting and refugees had to be housed on the Racing Grounds. For the U.S. side, the high number of casualties caused by the Tet Offensive turned public opinion against the war and motivated a policy of 'Vietnamization' under the new Nixon Administration in 1969, the beginnings of U.S. withdrawal.
The Tet OffensiveJanuary 30, 1968 marked the beginning of the Tet Offensive (January 30, 1968 - September 23, 1968), one of the largest North Vietnamese / Vietcong offensives of the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive comprised of coordinated surprise attacks targeting both military and civilians. All told, the North Vietnamese struck more than 100 towns and cities, including Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, and 36 of 44 provincial capitals. U.S. forces were caught unprepared and by the second week of February had suffered over 9000 casualties.
Publication History and CensusThis map was published by the Southeast Asia Printing House (Nhà in Đông-Nam-Á) in 1968 (no more specific date given). The note in the bottom-left margin suggests that this map might have been an addendum to a publication by Shell Vietnam, the local branch of Royal Dutch Shell. It is only known to exist in the holdings of the Cornell University Library system and has no known history on the market.
Southeast Asia Printing House (Nhà in Đông-Nam-Á; fl. c. 1955 - 1968) was a Saigon-based publisher. A firm by this name exists today in Ho Chi Minh City but appears to only have been founded in 2004 and has no connection with the former company. More by this mapmaker...
Good. Verso repair and reinforcement to old fold lines. A few minor margin tears reinforced on verso. Light infill and soiling.