HCMC Dining Guide

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Birds of Progress

Possibly the most visible sign of economic growth and progress in a city are construction cranes, most notably the (almost always yellow) 'sky cranes', which are a sure indicator that something big is on the way. The landscapes of emerging cities around the world are dotted with these steel behemoths - just Google "Dubai sky cranes" to see what I'm on about - and Saigon is no exception.

For those of you that have never seen a sky crane, here's a brief introduction: Once a site is chosen for a construction project, it is cleared and leveled. If a basement is needed, one is dug, otherwise, work on the foundation follows. Once this step is reached, and if the building is going to be tall (and the project has enough money invested in it to afford cranes), the cranes will arrive. These are planted into the ground like massive trees and, as the building gains height, they are extened to match the growth. It is fascinating to watch a site where cranes are located; their great arms swiveling above the building, cables snatching construction material from the ground and quickly delivering to the top floor. They are the reason skyscrapers and high-rises can be built so quickly these days, and I find them to be quite striking.

Although Vietnam's economic hub is certainly no match for the cities of the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, or China's boomtowns when it comes to sheer number of cranes, there are still dozens of large-scale projects going on here. Most of the largest concentrations of cranes are out in the suburbs but, recently, four cranes appeared right in the center of Saigon's downtown - across the street from both the Opera House and the local Communist Party headquarters.  
Working on yet another luxury shopping mall.
Most of the rest of these are from Districts 2 and 7, where many luxury apartment/condo complexes are going in. I'm not going to describe any of them here, so this will be more of a visual post.

The M&C Tower, located downtown.

The Saigon Times Square, the city's next skyscraper, located near the city center..

These cranes help illustrate how much the economy, both Vietnam's and Saigon's, has grown in the past couple of decades. From certain vantage points you can see nearly a dozen cranes at any one time, and I like to imagine what the city will look like once they disappear after the project they are attached to is finished. Assuming the country gets through its current economic troubles (with inflaton running over 20%), more cranes will continue to appear across Saigon's skyline, and the city will, hopefully, be better for it.

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