Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Elisabethville: a Belgian queen, an abandoned beach resort and experimental architecture

A couple of vintage postcards picked up at a fair took me to a sleepy suburban town on the Seine that hides plenty of surprises.

Picking up the postcards, it was the name that attracted me first. Elisabethville. There had to be a story behind such a name, but the photos on the cards provided few clues. Clearly the town was a recent one, with the postcards highlighting municipal architecture, apparently from the 1960s. Why did the postcard manufacturers choose to promote a town hall annex and an indoor market? Was there anything else in this town?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Last Comrade on Rue La Fayette

The French Communist Party (PCF) - as we have previously seen - made its mark on 20th century Paris. However, although its two major HQ buildings became iconic addresses, few people know where it all began. A significant clue though remains written next door!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Politics of Place Names

Walk almost any street in Paris and you will be connected to a historical person or event. It is the French way to give streets and public places the names of important people and significant moments in the country’s past, but this policy is almost never neutral. A good example is the Place Kossuth, where a once important building is situated. This is the story of that building and an attack by nomenclature.
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