1867 Exposition Universelle

Following the success of the 1855 Exposition Universelle, Napoleon III organized France's second exposition in 1867 to further demonstrate his political authority and his country's technological prowess. The traditions that originated from the 1867 Exposition Universelle continue to effect how visitors and locals interact with the city today.

At the height of his reign, Napoleon III declared that the second major Exposition Universelle would take place in 1867 on the Champ de Mars. Napoleon III hoped that by walking around the Champ de Mars, visitors would feel as though they were traveling around the world all in one day. In 1798, this area had hosted the first French national exhibition, which acted as a precursor to the later development of the tradition of the World's Fairs. During the first French national exhibition of 1798, 110 manufacturing exhibits demonstrated that the Revolution had done little to slow the country's industrial progress (Stamper 332). The site of this initial exhibition, the Champ de Mars, was a former military parade ground and became the center of the later Expositions Universelles.

In an effort to modernize the exposition site, the existing 1798 structure was demolished to make way for a larger, more complex hall, designed in part by Gustave Eiffel (Wilson 22). This hall was the first to truly rival London's Crystal Palace in its architectural design that consisted of an elliptical shape with seven concentrically arranged halls (Mattie 17). Napoleon III played a large role in creating this building, as the international recognition of his own political supremacy emanated from the architectural superiority of the space. The eleven million visitors that arrived at the 1867 Exposition Universelle were greeted by the most innovative displays of technology and industry that France could muster at the time including the hydraulic elevator, the rocking chair, and artificial limbs (Mattie 19). Samuel Morse said of visiting the exhibitions, "I believe my children will learn more of the condition of the arts, agriculture, customs… of the world in five weeks than they could by books at home in five years, and as many years' travels" (McKendry 194). Napoleon III brought the world to Paris, which helped to further the city's standing as the center of the modern world.

During the exhibition, bateaux-mouches, or pleasure boating, on the Seine was introduced, a tradition that allowed visitors to observe the splendor of the exposition from the river and still remains popular in Paris today. The present prevalence of boating on the Seine as a part of Parisian tourism culture demonstrates how the exposition created lasting legacies on the city itself and acts as a reminder that millions of people flock to Paris each year to see the sites of the city from the water, much like the World's Fair visitors did in the summer of 1867. While the 1867 international pavilions no longer exist along the banks of the Seine, people still take in the city's most popular spots from the water, many of which are relics of the later Exposition Universelles. The Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, and Petite Palais did not exist in 1867, but they act as visual reminders of the effects of the World's Fairs on Paris in the place of the forgotten international pavilions and propel the continued interest in pleasure boating down the Seine.

Tourist continue the legacy that was begun in 1867 each day and behave similarly to the visitors of the 1867 Exposition Universelle by seeing the city in the most peaceful way possible. Tourists today flock to the city for many of the same reasons as the visitor's of the World's Fairs to see the grandeur and modernity of the city of Paris.

While the 1867 Exposition Universelle depicted Paris as a strong city with an adequate government through the technological advancements and innovation on display, France would soon be embroiled in the Franco-Prussian War and would not host another exhibition until 1878, following years of military embarrassment (Wilson 24). Through this exposition Napoleon III was able to posit his city as modern and competitive, which created a lasting impression on the international audience despite the troubles to come. The event also left a lasting legacy on Paris and continues to effect how people take in the city itself.

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