William E. Crawford was one of the first Western photographers to gain access to Hanoi after the Vietnam War ended in 1985. Since then, Crawford has repeatedly photographed this northern city, focusing on the colonial and indigenous architecture, urban details, landscapes, and intimate portraits of people in their home settings and on the streets. The work includes many photographs of Crawford’s favorite neighborhood, the historic Old Quarter known as 36 Streets.
The only known photographer to approach Hanoi as a study over time, Crawford’s early photographs reveal a city in extreme disrepair. Yet over the last three decades Hanoi has transformed into a textbook example of how traditional Asian and economically developing cities have been torn down only to re-emerge in their own contemporary form. What this looks like, and the choices people make on its behalf, is the essential theme of Hanoi Streets, a book chronicling the photographs Crawford made of Hanoi from 1985-2015.
In the book’s concluding essay, Crawford sums up Hanoi’s current aesthetic: “The look in Hanoi, from colonial days until now, is one of freewheeling juxtaposition, the result of placing Eastern and Western styles right next to one another and letting them, in a visual sense, duke it out.”
William E. Crawford received a B.A. from Yale University in 1970 and an M.F.A in photography from Yale School of Art in 1973. Crawford studied with Walker Evans and John T. Hill.
Hanoi Streets 1985-2015: In the Years of Forgetting
By William E. Crawford
Published by Images Publishing