Vintage Postcards: The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

Picture Postcards provide a graphic history of the late 19th and entire 20th C history – events such as political, social, sporting and even natural disasters.

They show the development of road, canal, rail, sea and air transport.  They feature sportsmen, thespians, politicians and revolutionaries – and anyone anyone who might be newsworthy and heroic.

They covered the Boer War, the Great War, the 1916 Dublin Rising and Ireland’s War of Independence.  National firms like Easons, Hely, Lawrence and Valentine published postcards of countrywide interest, while in every town and city were local photographers who recorded all the interesting events of the day and published them as picture postcards.  The major European publishers made a fortune selling picture postcards to emigrants in America and Canada who had probably never seen the land of their ancestors.

With such a wide choice of subjects to collect, there really is plenty to suit anyone’s pocket.  One hundred-year old postcards can be bought for as little as 50c, though the best street scenes attract prices in excess of €20.

Special subject cards such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Titanic, suffragettes and football teams can sell for €100 or more, while less sought after themes such as bridges, churches, big houses and country scenes usually start at 50c upwards.

Age doesn’t always provide an indication of value, for a card from the 1970’s may sell for more than one from the Edwardian era.  Whatever their subject or price, however, postcards can be fascinating, stimulating, and educational – but they never fail to interest.

This is a selection of the Great Flood of Paris in January 1910.

  • In late January 1910, following months of high rainfall, the Seine River flooded Paris when water pushed upwards from overflowing sewers and subway tunnels, and seeped into basements through fully saturated soil.
  • The waters did not overflow the river’s banks within the city, but flooded Paris through tunnels, sewers, and drains.
  • Some of the embankments and bridges were inundated with flood waters but these were quickly patched up by the emergency crews.
  • In neighbouring towns both east and west of the capital, the river rose above its banks and flooded the surrounding terrain directly.

Winter floods were a normal occurrence in Paris but, on 21 January, the river began to rise more rapidly than normal.  Over the course of the following week, thousands of Parisians evacuated their homes as water infiltrated buildings and streets throughout the city shutting down much of Paris’ basic infrastructure.

  • Police, fire-fighters, and soldiers moved through waterlogged streets in boats to rescue stranded residents from upper-storey windows and to distribute aid.
  • Refugees gathered in makeshift shelters in churches, schools, and government buildings.
  • Although the water threatened to overflow the tops of the quay walls that line the river, workmen were able to keep the Seine back with hastily built levees.
  • Once water invaded the Gare d’Orsay rail terminal, its tracks soon sat under more than a metre of water.
  • To continue moving throughout the city, residents traveled by boat or across a series of wooden walkways built by government engineers and by Parisians themselves.
  • On 28 January the water reached its maximum height at 8.62 metres (28.28 feet), some 6 m above its normal level.

The picture postcards speak for themselves but the messages on the back (also illustrated) often give additional details about the social and economic disruption.

Many people collect vintage postcards from Paris but the following cards show Paris in a very different way to how we usually remember a trip to Paris.  This is just a small selection – there are many hundreds of different cards available to collectors.

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

Boulevard Diderot Carrefour Charenton Rue Beccaria

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

The Great Flood of Paris, January 1910

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