1889, Paris FR – Exposition Universelle (4th)

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1889 Paris

Name:Exposition Universelle (4th)
Dates:6 May – 31 Oct 1889 initially, but extended to 6 Nov 1889
Days:180 days
Venue:Champ-de-Mars, Trocadéro, the Quai d’Orsay and the Esplanade des Invalides
96 ha (237 acres)
Theme:French Revolution Centennial
Exhibitors:61,722, of which 25,364 were foreign – from some 35 countries
Visitors:Claims range between 6,000,00 to 32,250,297 vis, admission 1 franc
Legacy:Cost 41,500,000 francs with a profit of 8,000,000 francs. The Galerie des machines was used
again in 1900 then pulled down. The Tour Eiffel became the prime symbol of Paris and France.

The event coincided with the centennial of the Storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution. This had a mixed response, some monarchies were not keen to celebrate that occasion officially, others were fearful it might inspire civil unrest, Most commentators commented that the exhibition calmed rather than inflamed the situation.

The French Third Republic ensured it took on special significance in celebration, the Exposition Tricolorée. But while the various governments had fully funded the last three Paris exhibitions, with this one less than a third of the costs of this fair was provided. President Carnot opened the event and the mayors of the 86 departements were invited to a banquet and most attended.

1889 Paris central dome

There was a desire for the event to leave some legacy, to provide a clou (a nail or spike) as a clear symbol of French culture. A competition was announced to designing the main event legacy feature, it attracted over seven hundred entrants., a 300m (984ft) tall guillotine was rejected in favour of Gustave Eiffel’s tower. However, 47 artists and writers in Paris came together to protest, writing We, the writers, painters, sculptors and architects come in the name of French good taste and of this menace to French history to express our deep indignation that there should stand in the heart of the Capital this monstrous and unnecessary Tour Eiffel. it became a global cultural icon of France and one of the most instantly recognisable structures in the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

La Tour Eiffel being built

It was built between 1887 and 1889. Some 18,038 pieces were joined together using 2.5 million rivets, to create a 324 metres (1,063 ft) tower and is the tallest structure in Paris. The Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 yearsin 1930 the Chrysler Building in New York City took on that mantle (though the addition of a broadcast aerial on the tower in 1957, made it 5.2 m (17 ft) taller than the Chrysler Building. Eiffel was awarded all of the revenue earned by ascents of the tower for the first twenty years. At 3 FFr to ascend to the second storey and a further 2 FFr to climb to the top it was extremely fruitful.

At its opening in 1889 the Eiffel Tower sported a reddish-brown colour. A decade later it was painted yellow, then later yellow-brown and chestnut brown. Finally an ‘Eiffel Tower Brown’ was used from 1968.

There were more than eighty buildings on the Champ de Mars, the most significant buildings were the Palais d’Industrie, the Palais des Beaux-arts and Palais des Arts Libéraux, the Galerie des machines [442.6m (1,452 ft) long, 114m (375 ft) wide] and the Palais des expositions diverses. The Palais des Beaux-arts was affected by an ongoing argument with the Impressionists and showed only Naturalist and Pre-Raphaelite painters.

1889 Galerie des Machines

The Palais des Arts Libéraux, showed a range of other exhibits – from geography, medicine, music instruments, pedagogy and photography, its centre-piece was a large Terrestrial Globe.

The Palais des expositions diverses had bronze casts, clothes, crystals, furniture, jewellery, mosaics… Buffalo Bill arranged for Annie Oakley to rejoin his ‘Wild West Show’, they performed every day of the event.

There were ten classifications of exhibitors, notable exhibitors included: Daimer and Benz automobiles’; Edison’s telelphone and phonograph; Tiffany lamps; horticultural exhibits in the Trocadero gardens…

Drawings of History of Habitation feature

Attractions included a large presence of electric lighting; tethered baloons; a colonial feature that included native villages and some elements of tha Angkor Wat temples; Javanese dancers on the Dutch stand; IndoChinese rickshaw rides; a replica of a Cairo Street and an Egyptian temple; a tableau of work through the ages and another of human habitations down the ages; a puppet theatre in the Children’s World display…

The exhibition was wher Paul Gauguin first encountered ‘noble savages’ that would become the centre of his career as an artist.

1889 Paris Javanese dancers

Forward to 1890, Tokyo JP – National Industrial Exhibition (3rd)
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