Monday 30 August 2021

Week 35: the death of an English clown

100 years ago this week: Week 35

Looking back a century can sometimes take you even further into the past. The death of one of the best known clowns in France sparked nostalgia in journalists for the belle époque, a simpler time of joy, prosperity and family trips to the circus and the music hall. If France had grown more morose as the twentieth century progressed, so had Footit the (English) clown.  

Take your seats for a celebration of the life of a melancholic clown.

Monday 23 August 2021

Week 34: Manfield-Hotspur - the first desirable sporting brand

100 years ago this week: Week 34

Sport was an amateur affair in France at the beginning of the 1920s, but those who participated still desired serious equipment. With more and more people taking part, players wanted to look the part and use the same gear as their semi-professional idols. On the football field, one Franco-British brand was starting to corner the market, with success stemming from groundbreaking advertising campaigns.  

Kick off a look into a brand that met its goals.

Monday 16 August 2021

Week 33: a plague on Paris

100 years ago this week: Week 33

The 1920s was an era of modernism and progress, but in certain respects, Paris was still a medieval city. The archaic nature of the sanitary conditions in some districts - overlooked most of the time - only became an issue when infectious diseases broke out. Was the plague about to make a comeback in 1921? 

Scratch your itch here.

Monday 9 August 2021

Week 32: a scene on a bus

100 years ago this week: Week 32

A rapid interaction on a bus observed by a journalist - recreated in words in the form of a scene from an imaginary film - tells us more about the invisible effects of World War One that were still hanging heavily in the air in 1921. Life had returned to normal, but nothing would ever be totally normal for those that had lived through the conflict.

Hop on the bus here.

Monday 2 August 2021

Week 31: the Bateaux-Mouches are back!

100 years ago this week: Week 31

World War One didn't have many direct impacts on Paris, but the indirect effects were deep and long-lasting. Beyond the terrible human suffering and financial shock, many more unexpected parts of city life were interrupted. This was the case with Paris's passenger boats, which in the summer of 2021 were finally getting back on the water.

Take a trip down the Seine here.

Monday 26 July 2021

Week 30: a daring - and failed - robbery on the rue Chauveau-Lagarde

100 years ago this week: Week 30

Looking back 100 years into the past reveals how much some parts of Paris have changed in a century. An incident that took place near the Place de la Madeleine one warm July evening in 1921 is one such portal into the past.

Push open the doors to a different world here.

Monday 19 July 2021

Week 29: The best summer terrace in 1921!

100 years ago this week: Week 29

Although many people left Paris for summer residences in July and August, those who remained in the city could still find plenty of places to cool down. For evening entertainment, the shaded garden of the Bal Bullier near the Jardin du Luxembourg was the place to be.

Come through the entrance gates here.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Week 28: July 14 on the beach in Paris

100 years ago this week: Week 28

What did Parisians do on July 14, 1921? Like every year on this national holiday, they danced in the streets and drank a little too much. With temperatures soaring though, many were also tempted to head down to the banks of the Seine and take a splash in the water!

Dive in here for more details.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Week 27: a strange machine in the Paris sky

100 years ago this week: Week 27

In the early 1920s, Parisians were becoming used to seeing strange flying machines in the sky above the city, but the passage over Paris of a gigantic air balloon one sunny July evening was still a remarkable event, As well as being physically impressive, it was also a sign of victory, and the pointer towards a future that would never really happen.

Pull out your spyglass and read on.

Monday 28 June 2021

Week 26: How did Parisians get 'live' news from the Dempsey - Carpentier fight in New Jersey?

100 years ago this week: Week 26

One of the biggest and longest running stories of 1921 came to a dramatic conclusion in the first weekend of July. 5700km from Paris, boxer and local favourite Georges Carpentier took on American heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey, but Parisians still found ways to follow the fight almost blow by blow. How did they manage to stay up-to-date in a pre-radio era, and how did the fight revolutionise sports coverage in the world?

Read on to find out.

Monday 21 June 2021

Week 25: Explosion in the cocaine trade

100 years ago this week: Week 25

The end of World War One brought peace and a return to normality, but for the press and the medical profession, a new menace to society was on the horizon - cocaine. Traffic and consumption were growing rapidly throughout France, and the police and judicial system were seemingly completely out of step with this new reality. What was the actual situation, where was this trade coming from and who were the consumers?

Read on to find out.

Monday 14 June 2021

Week 24: The invention that didn't take off

100 years ago this week: Week 24

In the early decades of the twentieth century, pulling away from the gravitational pull of our planet and taking to the skies became an obsession. Convential aviation was developing at an incredibly rapid pace, but a number of dreamers also believed they could be at one with the birds using just their own strength and a bit of home engineering. One champion cyclist managed to go further than anyone had ever been before, but still made it nowhere near the stars.

Fasten your seatbelts  and read on.

Monday 7 June 2021

Week 23: Georges Carpentier, champion boxer and maker of pots and pans

100 years ago this week: Week 23

In June 1921, French World Champion boxer Georges Carpentier was preparing for the biggest fight of his life - a world title combat in the USA against local favourite Jack Dempsey. The forthcoming confrontation had given Carpentier immense star power in France, with his life story being serialised in the press, as well as some rather unexpected commercial opportunities.

Seconds on

Monday 31 May 2021

Week 22: Paris chosen to host the 1924 Olympics - thanks to an imaginary project!

100 years ago this week: Week 22

In the night of June 2, 1921, the International Olympic Committee voted 16 to 4 to select Paris as the organising city for the next Olympic Games, to be held in 1924. The news was not greeted with much interest in the press, with journalists perhaps aware that the city had no actual facilities or sporting culture. That would all change though in time for the Olympics...or would it?

On your marks, get set, go...

Monday 24 May 2021

Week 21: Vive la Commune !

100 years ago this week: Week 21

In the history of Paris, May 21 - 28, 1871 is known as the Semaine Sanglante, the bloody week when thousands were killed as government forces took back control of the city from the Communards. We mark the 150th anniversary of these tragic events this year, but 100 years ago the commemorations were far from front-page news. Instead, the mainstream press chose to focus on a completely different - and locally irrelevent - commemoration.

Turn the pages here.

Monday 17 May 2021

Week 20: Marie Curie arrives in New York with her two daughters

100 years ago this week: Week 20

In May 1921, Marie Curie crossed the Atlantic with her daughters, not to visit the new world but instead to collect a gramme of radium that had been paid for by dontations from hundreds of American women. The wonderful photo - published on the front page of Excelsior as she arrived in New York - features four remarkable women, flag bearers of a different new world.

Disembark with them here and read the story of this historic trip.

Monday 10 May 2021

Week 19: The Republic of Montmartre is proclaimed

100 years ago this week: Week 19

A town outside of the Paris walls until 1860, Montmartre proclaimed itself to be an independant from the city once again 60 years later, following the initiative of a group of artists. The Republic is in reality an association based around charitable initiatives for children and annual festivities, but is still going strong today.

Cross the border below.

Monday 3 May 2021

Week 18: The troublesome centenary of Napoleon's death

100 years ago this week: Week 18

Paris is marking the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon this year with low-key exhibitions and sober colour supplements. 100 years ago however, the centenary was far more controversial. Given ongoing tensions with Germany, was it appropriate to celebrate the life of an imperialist and one of history's biggest warmongers? If opinions differed wildly in the press, a significant Anglo-French moment in the sporting arena brought more unanimous cheer!

Find out more.

Monday 26 April 2021

Week 17: Baptistin Travail, a gentleman-burglar fit for the cinema

100 years ago this week: Week 17

When a daring, ingenious and charming French career burglar was arrested in Rio de Janeiro, the press could not help making a link to the rapidly developing film industry. His life, exploits - and arrest - seemed to make a perfect movie scenario, but little did journalists know that the most dramatic was yet to come.

Get your popcorn ready and read on.

Monday 19 April 2021

Week 16: Red Star win the Coupe de France in an American stadium

100 years ago this week: Week 16

A century ago, Red Star, the football club I follow in France, won its first French Cup. I couldn't ignore that fact in this series! Beyond this simple statistic though, what struck me about the event was the stadium in which the game was played - a facility in Paris built by American soldiers after WW1.

Kick off the centenary celebrations here.

Monday 12 April 2021

Week 15: Charlot, the criminal acrobat who fell to earth

100 years ago this week: Week 15

Sharing the name of the most popular movie character of the era, a daring acrobat gained his renown by putting his gymnastic skills to criminal ends. This week one hundred years ago, his life in crime came to a sticky end.

Take a leap back into the past here.

Monday 5 April 2021

Week 14: What was the population of Paris in 1921?

100 years ago this week: Week 14

In April 1921, the first population census of Paris and its surrounding towns for a decade was published. Although I accept this probably fascinates me much more than it might you, I encourage you to dive into the data with me. The numbers reveal a city on the cusp of major changes, and a very different Paris from the one we know today.

Come and mingle with the people here.

Monday 29 March 2021

Week 13: Cinema in the year 2021

100 years ago this week: Week 13

When I take my trips back into 1921 I feel like an invisible observer of another world. What I didn't expect was to find somebody heading the other way to look into my world! And I certainly didn't expect them to have predicted Netflix, personal video cameras and online dating!

Take a trip into the past and back to the future.

Monday 22 March 2021

Week 12: Rue de la Paix, then and now

100 years ago this week: Week 12

Turning to the back page of the March 23 edition of the Excelsior newspaper, I was delighted to find a beautiful full-page promotional map highlighting a selection of establishments on the Rue de la Paix and surrounding streets. 

How many of these are still in place today I wondered…

Take a stroll along the street with me to find out.

Monday 15 March 2021

Week 11: the 50th anniversary of the Paris Commune

100 years ago this week: Week 11

This week in 2021, France is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune. How did the country and city commemorate the 50th anniversary in March 1921? If the subject was still politically charged and the date ignored by most papers, on a human level it was fascinating. 100 years ago, surviving witnesses could still be found and interviewed!

Read on to meet some of the characters.

Monday 8 March 2021

Week 10: Send Away the Tigers

100 years ago this week: Week 10

Life was difficult in Paris in 1921 if you had German heritage – even if you were a tiger. With wounds still open from the terrible conflict and tense discussions ongoing on reparations, the French government made a surprising decision that impacted one of the city’s most popular circuses.

Roll up, roll up for the full story.

Monday 1 March 2021

Week 9: Bargains at the world's biggest shop

100 years ago this week: Week 9

Some tempting promotions were on offer a century ago at the Palais de la Nouveauté, an eccentric and eclectic store that marketed itself as the world's largest. If most of the city's other 'grands magasins' are today still in operation, this curiously positioned 'palace' was already in decline in 1921.  

Read on to find some bargains.

Monday 22 February 2021

Week 8: Tanneguy Archdeacon: the prodigal son and the 'accidental' school shooting

100 years ago this week: Week 8

What caused a troubled teenager to kill the cook at his college, and why was the incident hushed up?

Read on for the full story.

Monday 15 February 2021

Week 7: the deaf, the dumb and the apache

100 years ago this week: Week 7

What happened when a deaf musician met a dumb stranger late at night on the streets of Paris?

Read on to find out more.

Monday 8 February 2021

Week 6: Fanny Ward, the forgetful - and forgotten - American film star

100 years ago this week: Week 6

The story of a silent film star who couldn't help making a lot of noise.

Read on to find out more.

Monday 1 February 2021

Week 5: The Moulin...Bleu?

100 years ago this week: Week 5

Everybody knows the Moulin Rouge, but did you know that in the 1920s and 30s a rival with a very similar name was in operation not 200 metres away? I didn't until I saw an advert in a Paris paper from 1921...

Read on to find out more.

Monday 25 January 2021

Week 4: The Unknown Soldier is placed in the tomb

100 years ago this week: Week 4

A poignant moment in history, overshadowed on the front pages by a portent of further conflict.

Read on to discover the fourth newspaper extract in this series.

Monday 18 January 2021

Week 3: A baby falls from the sky

100 years ago this week: Week 3

A snapshot of distress and desperation that could have come from a Zola novel or Ken Loach film, but one in which I'd like to imagine a happy ending.

Read on to discover the third snippet in this series.

Monday 11 January 2021

Week 2: A big noise at “Père Tranquille”

100 years ago this week: Week 2

Thanks for all your kind messages after the first post last week. It's good to be back and good to know that people are still reading! Here's week 2!
A not so souper evening....

Monday 4 January 2021

100 years ago this week

A new year, a new resolution. Invisible Paris has certainly lived up to its name over the last couple of years, but it feels like a time when it would be good for all of us to be a little more visible. Exploring, wandering, researching - hell, even getting outside the house and inside other buildings – has been more complicated than we could have ever imagined in the past year, but can we still look at the unusual and uncelebrated sides of Paris in other ways?
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