Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

The glorious Pont de Verneville, constructed at the turn of the century, but demolished just 30 years later
Unfortunately, the de Verneville Bridge was not part of the tour of the old French quarter of Phnom Penh as it was demolished at the beginning of the 1930s. Why such a glorious structure was not kept for posterity we shall never know, except that it no doubt, stood in the way of progress. The city's grand canal was constructed in 1894 and marked the European (French) quarter of the city. The canal was 3,100 metres long with three different arms; it entered from the Tonle Sap, ran east to west along Quai Verneville (now Street 106) and south to north adjacent to boulevard Monsignor Miche (now Monivong Boulevard), before swinging eastwards again to exit into the Tonle Sap at the end of boulevard Charles Thomson (now France Street 47) at the site of the Pont de Verneville. Built a little later than the canal itself, this enormous structure was also called the Dollars Bridge and housed a mobile footbridge. Today it would've stood at the entrance to the Japanese Friendship Bridge that crosses the river. The only reminder we have today are these images from old postcards, which show some of the unique features of the city that are sadly now long gone.
A 1930 ariel view of the de Verneville Bridge (white) and the Tonle Sap River, just before the bridge was demolished and the canal filled in

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