Monday, 14 April 2008
Postcards of the Day No. 14 and 15
Two fine early 20th. century colour cards of Parisian landmarks at Porte Saint-Denis and Porte Saint-Martin. These monumental triumphal arches were put in place to glorify the military victories of Louis XVI in the latter part of the 17th. century. In 1848 the area was the scene of working class insurrection and in 1855, Queen Victoria became the last monarch to pass through the arch of Porte St-Denis on the occasion of her visit to the Exposition Universelle. Today their lack of depth and constrained position within the street grid gives them an incongruous air. Both out of scale with their surroundings yet curiously insubstantial when compared with the Arc de Triomphe with its massive bulk surrounded by the vast acreage of the Place de l’Étoile. The advertising kiosks, the hand painted signage, the news kiosks and the vintage forms of transport provide a wealth of period detail. This area is today a fascinating border zone where many different aspects of the modern city exist cheek by jowl. A short walk to the west will bring you to the Bd Haussmann and ‘les grands magasins’, to the east is Place de la République, the gateway to traditional working class Paris. North of Porte St-Martin is the Bd de Strasbourg, a street lined with businesses almost exclusively catering to minority communities, and the great railway termini, Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord. The Bd de Sébastopol runs south to les Halles, Châtelet and the rue de Rivoli. The 2 photographs were taken last December and show the triumphal arches looking in fine condition.