LONG BIEN BRIDGE - CONNECTING THE PAST AND PRESENT
Long Bien Bridge, which began construction in 1898 and opened in 1902, was named Doumer after the Governor-General of Indochina at that time, Paul Doumer. The bridge is 2.290m long and has 896 spans, including 19 steel girder spans placed on 20 high pillars. The bridge was to serve the French colonialists' colonial expansion with planned upgrades to infrastructure and facilities, serving the circulation of goods from the Northern Plain to Hai Phong and from Hai Phong to Hanoi. Since the bridge came into operation, trade between regions has become easier.
Long Bien bridge is associated with many historical ups and downs of the Vietnamese people and of Hanoi. During the war against the French, the bridge was a witness to the spirit of determination of our people to fight and win.
In the early days of February 1947 Long Bien Bridge witnessed the miraculous retreat of our army. Under the direction of the Party Central Committee, President Ho Chi Minh and the General Command, the Hanoi City Party Committee and Front Command decided to organize for the Capital Regiment to leave the First Military Zone. They moved to the rear to preserve and build forces for long-term resistance. Before leaving Hanoi, our soldiers wrote on the walls of the streets: "Invaders, we will return here soon"; "Hanoi Capital is forever a part of Vietnamese people"; "Goodbye Hanoi! See you soon"...
The entire nation joined hands to win the Dien Bien Phu Battle, which forcing the French colonialists to sign the Geneva Accords on July 21st. Thus recognizing the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the three Indochina countries and accepting the withdrawal of troops from North Vietnam.
On October 8th 1954, the French lowered the flag and on October 9th they began to withdraw from Hanoi. Wherever the French army withdrew our troops took over there.
By 16.00 on October 9th 1954, after the last French soldiers withdrew across Long Bien bridge, our soldiers and people were in complete control of the city. The bridge was the place to welcome the returning victorious troops to the capital.
Keeping our promise, we returned to the historic Long Bien bridge after 9 years of long and arduous resistance. Thanks to the tenacious fighting spirit of "biting the bullet without flinching and our spirit and willpower" of our soldiers and people.
On the morning of October 10th 1954, the City Military Committee and the people's army units including infantry, artillery, air defence and mechanized vehicles... divided into several directionsto enter Hanoi.
Twenty thousand people of the Capital joyfully welcomed the victorious army. People stood in orderly lines in front of offices, factories, schools and neighborhoods. Dressed in formal clothes and carrying flags, Uncle Ho's photos, and bouquets of fresh flowers, the people gathered on the sides of the roads where the troops marched through.
After our soldiers completed the takeover of the city, at exactly 15.00, a special ceremony took place at Doan Mon courtyard - Thang Long Imperial Citadel: the first flag salute ceremony immediately after Hanoi’s liberation. That scene was imprinted in the minds of the people of the capital on the day Hanoi was free from the enemy.
The 308th Corps that took over Hanoi conducted the first flag-raising ceremony on the Capital Liberation Day at Cot Co courtyard (now Doan Mon - Thang Long Imperial Citadel) at 15.00 on October 10th, 1954.
The war has ended. Everything seems to have changed, but only the familiar image of Long Bien bridge is still there every day. The Long Bien bridge now is physically old because it has suffered a lot of damage through devastating wars; however, it is a witness to many heroic and tragic historical events of the people of the capital. With that in mind, the Hanoi Museum has dedicated a space in the regular exhibitions to introduce this historic bridge. At the same time, the museum has also collected images, documents, and artifacts related to Long Bien bridge. Sleepers, rails, screws, etc., that were replaced during the repair of the bridge, have been donated by Hai Ha Railway Joint Stock Company to the Hanoi Museum for display. Long Bien bridge is the image that represents the mettle and people of Vietnam. Despite facing many challenges, they are still indomitable and unyielding.
Sleepers from Long Bien bridge - artifacts newly collected by the Hanoi Museum
Photo source: Vietnam News Agency