If I Could Turn Back Time (Picture Prattle)

1 Feb

Subway entrance. Photo from Curious Eggs

Has anyone ever asked you that question about the time period you’d most like to visit and why? And do you have an immediate answer? Personally, there’s a few eras I’d love to visit, and it’d be hard to choose just one. But seeing the pictures I’m about to show you reminded me just how much I’d love to travel to Paris, 1900.

Paris, 1900 means a lot to me. I wrote a research fellowship about it in college that was focused on the 1900 Universal Exposition and how it affected Mexican nationalism (Intrigued? Want to know more? I dare you to ask me about it!). I also wrote my honors thesis about Paris in the late 19th-century, focusing on the growth of consumer culture as integral part of the Parisian lifestyle. So there’s a lot I’d like to see, if I could step back in time. I’d go check out some of the Expo exhibits, then hop over to the new department stores and shop around. I’d stroll around the recently updated city and check out how its new sanitation systems were working. I’d grab some groceries at Les Halles and eat a picnic down by the river.  And then I’d head to my room and take a quick nap- you need lots of rest to flaner, afterall.

Look! Les Halles!

Look! Les Halles! Photo from Paris 1914.

The photos shown here are from different points throughout the early 20th century- so it isn’t 100% what I’d see were I to visit 1900. But aren’t these photos just so grand? I loved seeing Paris illuminated in color: most photos from the time period are in black and white. These photos give new life to the city, don’t you think? This technology was actually pioneered by the Lumiere brothers, two of the earliest inventors of “moving pictures.” In fact, the Lumieres had a film shown at that 1900 Expo. Full circle, eh? To be fair, these images have been somewhat retouched by a modern hand so that the colors are more vivid- the early technology didn’t have quite the same contrasts. The man who updated them worked off of the initial color palette to give them a richer feel, so it’s semi accurate to how they were initially produced. Even if they’re not 100% original,  I still think this gives us a new look at the time period, and am happy for the people working to make these photos better known.

Here’s a few more photos… For even more, check out Paris 1914’s website. Thanks to my friend Jon for posting on Facebook about  Curious Eggs‘s coverage of these pictures! And if you want to read more about how they were retouched, check out The Atlantic’s piece on it.



3 Responses to “If I Could Turn Back Time (Picture Prattle)”


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    […] quick and creative problem-solving. Given that I have a sweet spot for ice cream, St. Louis AND World’s Fairs- I think it’s only fair that I have an ice cream cone to celebrate this fortuitous event, don’t […]


  2. Holiday in Spain | Culture Cookies - December 3, 2013

    […] basis. Whether it’s laughing about mistakes I made before I understood French, musing on 1900s Paris, or reminiscing about how I came to love Nutella, I always have plenty of things to say about […]


  3. A Touch of Class (Picture Prattle) | Culture Cookies - June 23, 2014

    […] My own research explored how Mexican journalists explored their own identities while at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. In that classroom, we taught each other what we’d learned, shared our papers, […]


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