Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Bastille - 1889

In 1889 the tower of the Bastille once more loomed (briefly) over Paris....

The Universal Exhibition of 1889, which commemorated the centenary of the Revolution, is remembered almost exclusively today as the occasion for the construction of the Eiffel Tower. But it also featured this extraordinary - and massive - reconstruction of the Bastille itself. The project was the brainchild of Jean-Marie Perrusson, an industrialist and manufacturer of ceramics in Saône-et-Loire, who picked up the whopping tab of 12 million francs (as opposed to a mere 7.8 million for the Eiffel Tower)  It was designed by the architect Eugène Colibert (1832-1900) and, as well as the fortress itself, included a portion of the adjacent rue Saint-Antoine complete with houses and shop fronts. It was situated on the corner of avenue Suffren and avenue de la Motte Picquet, at the edge of the Champs de Mars, five kilometres away from the original site.  During the Exhibition  crowds could attend banquets inside in the Hall of Festivities and were treated to daily re-enactments of the Latude's famous escape as well as, of course, the events of 14th July themselves. Although the attraction was overshadowed by the Eiffel Tower, it still amassed receipts of over 100,000 francs. 


 Souvenir de la Bastille : 1789-1889 [portfolio of photographs]

A contractor charged with clearing the former Perrusson factory in 1960 unearthed a whole load of documents concerning the reconstruction. You can read all the details in the book L'Ephémère resurrection de la Bastille by Thierry Van de Leur (2011).

1 comment:

  1. Thank, very interesting! Among many other things, I mention this in a new book, "George Washington's Liberty Key: Mount Vernon's Bastille Key": www.LibertyKey.US