1900 was an amazing year in Paris and the exhibit at the Petit Palais right now (through August 17th), called “Paris 1900- La Ville Spectacle” gives you a great feel for all that was happening then. The Universal Exposition opened in April of 1900 and it was the biggest event of its kind ever, covering over 277 acres. Both the Petit Palais, which houses the exhibit, and the Grand Palais, across the street, were built for this Universal Exposition. One of the first lines of the metro was also being built, as well as The Alexander III bridge and two mainline rail stations, the Gare des Invalides and the Gare D’Orsay. The exposition attracted 50 million visitors– imagine that in 1900!
Another thing that was introduced at this time was electricity. Imagine what a difference that would have made in a city like Paris, that has always been filled with people wanting to dine and socialize into the evening. Suddenly, moving around at night was much easier and safer.
The exhibit is made up of various paintings, posters, sculpture, and clothing, all giving us a wonderful glimpse of the people and the places of the time. There were many paintings by artists that I didn’t know at all so I now have names to watch for in future exhibits.
There is an app that you can download for free that gives you snippets of information on various items in the exhibit through iTunes (and I think there is an Android version as well) and, of course, you can find out more at www.petitpalais.paris.fr as well.