Floods, Paris


PARIS INONDÉ (janvier 1910). — Rue Saint-Charles (Grenelle)
[Paris flooded (January 1910). Saint Charles Street (Grenelle)]
c.1910

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FLOODS IN FRANCE
ALL QUARTERS AFFECTED.
PARIS STREETS SUBMERGED. WIDESPREAD DESTRUCTION.

LONDON, Jan. 23.
Several streets in Paris are flooded, and residents along the quays are using boats. Inundations at the electric power stations caused a partial interruption of the metropolitan and East Parisian tramway services. Floods in the valleys of the Rhone, Aube, Loire, and Meuse have resulted in enormous damage.

Jan. 24.

The Seine is 12ft above its normal height at this season of the year, and, owing to falls of snow and heavy rains, continues to rise. Parisians have become alarmed at the flooding of the underground railways. Three lines have ceased running owing to sections being submerged. There is also is a danger that the river will reach the level of the sewers. The bear pit in the Zoological Gardens is flooded, and many streets leading to the Seine are submerged.

Parliament has been asked to vote £80,00 for the relief of the victims. The Rhone has risen 13ft. Disasters are reported from many provincial districts.
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1910


Crue de la Seine
Paris – Pont au Change – 28 Janier 1910
[Flood of the Seine]
1910
Publisher: E. le Delay

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The present floods throughout a great part of France would appear to be unprecedented. Certainly the like have never been experienced Paris. Happily in the French capital the houses nowhere abut directly on the river banks which throughout the entire length are protected by broad embankments, otherwise the damage would assuredly be greater As it is 20,000 people have been given from their homes[?] in the low=lying districts bordering the river. The greatest hardships seem to have been felt in the south-eastern portion where the Seine, having received the waters of its tributary the Marne, enters the city with a width of 636ft[?] and begins its meandering course of seven miles through the heart of Paris.

No fewer than 30 bridges span the river within the city built and several of these have had to be closed to traffic owing to the flood waters having submerged the roadway. The terminals of the Lyons and Orleans railways on opposite banks of the river have, the cable tells us, suffered considerable damage. The Quai d’Austerlitz, a fine thoroughfare which skirts the latter station on the left bank has also been undermined by water. The loss in goods and merchandise generally along the quays of the Seine must be enormous and one can picture the scene presented as the swirling torrent carried everything before it.
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 1910 (Extract)

ALL CENTRAL PARIS SUBMERGED.

The cup of Parisian bitterness is not yet full. The excited crowds which lined the quays of Paris on Friday, and greeted with shouts of joy the discovery that the waters were receding, have seen their high hopes blasted, for the flood fiend only relaxed his clammy grip in order that he might grasp and lay waste a more extensive area of the city of pleasure. Further violent rains on Friday caused the Seine to rise higher than it has ever been before, with the result that a great part of the city along either bank is completely inundated.

If it were merely a matter of the river overflowing its banks, the situation would be grave enough, but unfortunately the choking of the drains and sewers has added unforeseen terrors to those already heaped upon the stricken residents. Streets and roadways have been burst open by the pressure of the waters, others have collapsed, cellars and basements have been invaded, gas and water pipes have been wrenched away, and other service mains dismantled. In hundreds of instances houses have been rendered uninhabitable; in others people have been imprisoned for days by the engulfing waters, and have had to fight for their lives with famished and desperate rats, and cry pleadingly from their windows for bread.
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 1910

THE PARIS FLOOD.
QUARTER, OF A MILLION IN DISTRESS.
RIVERS FALLING.
STRAIGHTENING THE SEINE DEMANDED BY THE PEOPLE.

LONDON, Jan. 30.
Seven thousand residents of Gennevilliers, 21 miles from the city wall, adjacent to the numerous Paris market gardens, have been rescued from the flood waters.
Parisians are demanding the straightening of the course of the Seine at whatever cost, like Peter the Great Canal, in the River Neva, which has served as an outlet for that river in time of floods. When the quays were built along the Seine the river bed was restricted in order to deepen the stream. This has largely caused the present disaster.

M. Millerand, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, estimates that 8000 Parisians are homeless and foodless. Direct telegraphic and telephonic communication with London has practically ceased.

The Seine fell 5 inches on Saturday, and the Marne, Aube, and Alane 6 feet.
Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 1910


INONDATIONS DE PARIS (Janvier 1910). — Pont de Solférino
[Flooding of Paris (January 1910). — Solferino Bridge]
c.1910
Publisher: Levy Sons & Co. (1895-1919)

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The passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, formerly known as passerelle Solférino (or pont de Solférino), is a footbridge over the River Seine in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It is served by the Metro station Assemblée Nationale. For a century, a cast iron bridge inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1861 allowed vehicles to cross between quai Anatole-France and quai des Tuileries. Built by the engineers of the Pont des Invalides, Paul-Martin Gallocher de Lagalisserie and Jules Savarin, it was named after the June 1859 French victory of the Battle of Solferino. Having weakened over time (particularly due to barges crashing into it), it was demolished and replaced in 1961 with a steel footbridge.
Wikipedia.

Fire, Brussels International Exposition


Bruxelles-Exposition
L’Incendie des 14-15 Août 1910
L’Avenue des Nations

c.1910

The Brussels International Exposition of 1910 was a World’s fair held in Brussels, Belgium, from 23 April to 1 November 1910. This was just thirteen years after Brussels’ previous World’s fair. It received 13 million visitors, covered 88 hectares (220 acres) and lost 100,000 Belgian Francs. . . . There was a big fire on 14 and 15 August which gutted several pavilions in the Solbosch part of the exhibition. Part of the Belgian and French sections were destroyed, but the worst hit was the English section. After the fire, some destroyed parts were rebuilt at a rapid pace. This event attracted the attention of the public and the organisers were able to successfully use it for the promotion of the exhibition.
Wikipedia.

The results of the fire were horrifying in the rapidity with which they followed upon a trifling cause. A chance spark from a watchman’s pipe or the hot glow from a fused electric wire. Some such trifle as this originated the trouble. Then, at about a quarter to 9 on Sunday evening, an attendant saw a curtain smouldering in the Needle work hall. He called a gendarme to help him and tried to pull the burning curtain down. But, within a few seconds the roof was ablaze and, five minutes later the Exhibition was itself illuminated by the fiery glow.

The British Commissioner-General, who was in the midst of it all describes the scene thus:-
“Portions of the roof fell quickly, and flames ran along the facade with extraordinary rapidity, as they were sure to do in a building made of lath and plaster and stocked with light inflammable materials. Near the heart of the fire–if not in it–there were wax mannequins of Brussels dressmakers and these aided the furnace, but on breaking into the British section at the other end, where the offices are, it looked for the moment as if the flames were not coming our way, but might pass along the facade, and leave us time to save at least the more valuable contents. Beyond the great arch at the end of the section, however, there was an unbroken sheet of flame and in the absence of firemen a quarter of an hour decided the fate of everything.

“A dozen members the staff either attracted by the fierce light or already in the grounds the grounds worked hard and without confusion to save the moneys and all valuable papers particularly the plans of the Turin Exhibition. Mr Balaam, the treasurer, Mr Harries, representing the Board of Agriculture, who were exhibítors and other members of the staff lent willing hands and nothing of value was left behind. But the work was hardly done when men were crying ‘Sauve qui peut’. Entering the hall one saw a great body of flame leap along above the Bradford and Huddersfield tableaux and the priceless loan collection of furniture, flash through the light velarium, and scattering brands upon the show-cases. A great gust of wind came through the falling roof, and all was over. One had to leave the masterpieces of Bernard Moore and Howson Taylor exposed to a greater fire than that of the potter’s furnace.”

The fire was not sated. Like a torrent it rushed on, catching the velarium, and making the roof appear like “one tongue of fire”. An  onlooker states:- “The flames now reached the bridge which spans the Avenue Solbosch, between the French and British sections. With the sound of broken glass, tho roaring of the flames, the fall of girders, the bridge broke own into the avenue, and for a time it seemed as if the French section might be saved. There was, indeed, a kind of lull. Hero it may be said that the seeming incompetence of the Belgian firemen, the absence of any official with adequate common-sense, the multiplying of little jacks-in-office to bar the way were almost entirely to blame for the subsequent loss of the French Alimentation section, the Ville do Paris, and six houses on the Avenue Solbosch. Mr. Hotchkiss, the representative of the Underfeed Stoker Company, actually offered to lead a gang of men with axes and sledge-hammers to cut down the bridge three-quarters of an hour before the flames became too strong. To his offer the following reply was made: ‘We have no axes, no men, and no hammers.’ It was then proposed to blow up the bridge. ‘Dus aliter visum.’

“The bridge fell at about 10, but the French section had already caught. The fire ran along the Restaurant Duval incredibly fast. The French wines, the French chocolates, and other stalls for edible or potable wares disappeared like magic. The roof fell in, the walls collapsed, and the heat was so great that those who were on guard in the gardens below with articles rescued from the flames were forced to hide their faces behind the rose and apple trees. Taking, as it were, a second wind, the fire seemed to cross over and seize upon the brick houses of the Avenue Solbosch, and six were speedily tending heavenwards columns of smoke. In the French Industrial Hall, too, the flames began to make their way. The cases of jewellery were smashed and the valuable jewels conveyed across to a restaurant on the other side of the gardens. In the hurry and bustle amidst the red glow of the fires, the showers of sparks, and the clouds of smoke there was one found who endeavoured to steal from a showcase His fate was pitiable. Running at full speed, he was bought up by a cowboy with ‘punch’ on the jaw, and was seized by his infuriated pursuers. The police saved him with difficulty.”

Some of the most terrible scenes were witnessed in “Old Brussels,” where Bostock’s well-known wild-beast show was an attraction. The poor beasts were maddened with fear as the flames invaded the section. Someone fearing that they might escape and cause a panic in the now frightened crowd suggested shooting the creatures. Eight gendarmes were hurriedly sent for, and took their places with loaded rifles. Then it was remembered that the bullets would go beyond the open cages. A colony of monkeys were giv6n their liberty, but the rest were left to their fate. The charred remains of lions, bears, panthers, crocodiles, and the rest were found among the ruins next day.

“Old Brussels” itself was one of the most picturesque corners m the Exhibition. There were the narrow streets
twisting and turning with their courtyards and wooden bridges, which one instinctively associates with, old Flanders. The old wooden houses, with painted shutters, carved doorpost, and overhanging gables were fine fare for the fire fiends. Over the doorways of some were little niches with painted statue of the Virgin. These perished too. Within the leaded mullions and green panes one could see the benches set with tankards of Flemish beer. It was a picture such as the Brothers Grimm have made familiar to us all from childhood but all so substantial. When the flames came, they reduced everything to white cinders and black debris within a few minutes. The most dangerous moment from the human standpoint was when the fire reached Old Brussels and the crowds in the narrow streets were panic-stricken. Fortunately, beyond some serious cases of crushing all escaped.
The Mercury, 29 September 1910