District 1 is the center of old Saigon, and Dong Khoi Street, toward the eastern edge, is the neighborhood's historic main thoroughfare. It's a pleasant tree-lined street running down to the Saigon River from Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. These buildings, among many other fine examples here, date from the French-colonial era, when the street was known as Rue Catinat. Another name change occurred in the 1960s and '70s, when, known as Tu Do Street, it was Saigon's red-light district. Since then, the seedy element has been replaced by plenty of chic shopping, eating, and drinking, but it tends to be more costly here than elsewhere in the city. Around Dong Khoi Street, broad Nguyen Hue and Le Loi boulevards converge at the Hotel de Ville (now the People's Committee building), the historic Opera House, and the Hotel Continental; the former presidential palace (now called the Reunification Palace) is on the northern boundary of the area. The unsightly and very behind-schedule metro construction project blocks some key streets downtown, making traversing the area much more difficult than it should be. The project was originally due for completion in 2014, but the latest schedule estimates the metro's first line won't be operational until 2020.
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