Sukhumvit Through The Years

Bangkok is one of the world’s premier metropolitan cities.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

As we’ll see, by taking a trip in time down the Sukhumvit Line…

Here are some revealing photos of Bangkok past and present.

Phrom Phong, Then and Now

This is the Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 24, in 1969:

Phrom Phong old photo
Source: Admin ‘Tywais’, found in this thread

The Chokchai Building is under construction in this photo, soon destined to become the home of the CIA. Today it houses a UOB branch.

It’s good to see the tuk tuks still look the same!

Fast forward to Phrom Phong in 2015; now one of the busiest hubs of the city:

bangkok through the years

By Anton (CC BY 2.0 licence)

The BTS skytrain (opened in 1999) cuts through a valley of skyscrapers.

Siam Center, Then and Now

Siam Center was one of Bangkok’s first major shopping attractions when it opened in 1973.

Siam Center old photo
Source: Unknown

The plaza became a meeting point for the young, hip and fashionable. A reputation it carries to this day as a Mecca for young Thai designers.

Here it is in 1985:

Siam Center 1985
Source: Unknown

We can make out the promo poster for The Killing Fields; an 80s classic starring Sam Waterston.

Siam Center has undergone four facelifts, including major works after a fire in 1995.

In keeping with Bangkok’s transformation, the famous plaza is looking distinctly more Instagramable than it did 40 years ago:

Siam Center today

Soi Cowboy, Then and Now

The now infamous Soi Cowboy looked just like any other street in January 1981.

Soi Cowboy 1981
Source: Thai Visa user, camerata

On the right is Loretta’s, one of the largest bars in Bangkok at that time.

Loretta was married to T.G. Edwards, a retired American airman nicknamed ‘Cowboy’ for his selective hatwear. Edwards opened one of the first bars on this strip in 1977, and when several friends followed, Soi Cowboy was born.

As you can see, Cowboy’s electricity bill has taken a serious hit over the years:

bangkok through the years

By Terrazzo (CC BY-ND 2.0 licence)

Could somebody remember to turn off the lights?

Little Home Bakery Thonglor, Then and Now

Little Home Bakery was founded by a Filipino housewife in 1951. Her pancakes and coconut cake became so popular that she had to move the kitchen out of her home.

For somewhere bigger.

So she set up a shop on Thonglor Road instead.

Here it is in 1969:

Little Home Bakery Thonglor
Source: Unknown

Little Home Bakery now has 18 branches, including outlets in Bangkok’s most famous shopping centers.

But for the authentic experience, try the original shop on Thonglor Road.

It’s still there.

Little Home Bakery 2015
Source: Little Home

CentralWorld, Then and Now

CentralWorld started life as the World Trade Center in 1990:

World Trade Center 1990
Source: PostJung

In 2005, a gargantuan renovation was begun to ward off competition from Siam Paragon’s imminent arrival just down the road.

The mall reopened in 2007 as CentralWorld: shiny, sprawling and utterly impossible to navigate without a map.

CentralWorld 2015
Source: CentralWorld

Nana, Then and Now

Can you believe this is Nana?

Nana in 1971

The photo was taken in 1974 and shows the famous Nana Hotel overlooking what now resembles a neighbourhood from a different planet.

Soi Nana

By Mark Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)

Pathumwan, Then and Now

The slums of Pathumwan are captured here in 1979.

Can you guess what would soon be built over the top of them?

Pathumwan Slums (Now MBK)

Just six years later this area would be transformed in to, at that time, the largest shopping mall in Asia: MBK.

bangkok through the years

By Transformer18 (CC BY 2.0 licence)

“No great city stays the same.”

Bangkok has taken this maxim to the extreme.

(And thankfully, tourists have followed!)

Do you remember the Bangkok captured in these photos?

How do you think Sukhumvit Road will look in 20 years?



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