Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wednesday search challenge (1/1/14): Did everyone like the lights?

As fate would have it, I've been in Paris this week.  Not working (really!), but just on vacation, enjoying the city.  

Naturally, last night I had to watch the Eiffel Tower turn all sparkly and put on its light show at midnight.  So I walked down to the Place de la Concorde and stood around with about a million other folks and enjoyed the cool night air, the show on the tower, and the show of all the revelers on the city streets.  

Midnight at the Place de la Concorde

Naturally, this made me think about a search challenge.  Not a hard one in particular, but one that you can pursue to whatever depth you'd like.  

As you probably know, the Eiffel Tower was an object of some, shall we say skepticism when it was built.  As one writer put it:  
"... imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal"
Of course, over the years it has become one of the most beloved symbols of Paris. 

And then I wondered--If the Parisans were that hard on the Tower when it was first built, what did they think of the lights when they were first installed? 

Today's question (again, not hard, but go as deep as you like...) 

1. Did Parisians like the new light show when they were first installed?  Or did they think of them as wildly excessive and somewhat crass?  

The easy solution here is to look for the English language resources.  But a more motivated searcher might look for original sources (say, French or Parisian newspapers of the time) and get a "sense of the time" from the people in the city.  

Bonne Année! 

Search on!


  1. Happy New Year, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

    Searched Part 1.

    [Eiffel tower first time with lights]

    New year's eve will light up at the Eiffel tower Site says: "The LED technique used is state-of-the-art, and of course, will end with the symbolic countdown to 2010."

    Same site links to
    important lighting moments of Eiffel Tower

    [Eiffel tower lights people reaction]

    Eiffel Tower

    [Eiffel tower electricity 1900 people reaction]

    All you need to know about the Eiffel Tower

  2. [eiffel tower lighted 1889] in images

    Moonlight towers: light pollution in the 1800s
    Says: "The idea of placing arc lights on towers did not go unnoticed in Europe. It is believed that the Eiffel Tower in Paris, finished in 1889 and also equipped with powerful arc lights (below), was inspired by the first San José tower - the American city even sued Paris (in 1989!), unsuccessfully."

    [premières lumières lumineuses Tour Eiffel 1889]

    Les Illuminations de la Tour Eiffel

    [parisians reaction Eiffel tower lights history 1889..1900]

    In 1925 the City of Paris wanted to decorate the tower with electric lights as part of an arts exposition being held nearby, but the cost, estimated at $500,000, was too high. When automaker André Citroën learned of the project, he offered to pay for it himself…in exchange for the right to put his company name and corporate symbol in lights as well. The City agreed. "The Eiffel Tower," Blake Ehrlich write in Paris on the Seine, "became the world's largest electric sign, its outlines traced in lights." The lights were so popular that the tower remained lit with various designs until 1937.

    [decorative lighting]

    Illuminated animation project
    Painting in the Tower

    [eiffel tower illuminated animation project 1925]
    Fernand Jacopozzi, "Magician of the light" (a)

    1. Did Parisians like the new light show when they were first installed? Or did they think of them as wildly excessive and somewhat crass? A: Accordingly to what I found. It was very popular. First show, July 4, 1925. Article in (a) says: "Jacopozzi is the symbolic father of Paris by night, the person who contributed massively to the myth of the city of light " Same article mentions:" Person who has turned our Eiffel Tower, a simple and useless dark peak in the Paris night's sky, into the most splendid and enchanted electric theatre..."

    Then, the shows, judged too costlty, stop in 1936

    Question about:A note about searching Google Scanned Newspaper archives How we can get those results now?

    I tried with [Phrygian Cap] got results but not with 1800's dates.

    Happy New Year 2014!!!

  3. As suggested I started with a search for newspapers in Paris 1889. That’s a long list so I decided to check for searchable archives. Further in my search you’ll see that I found “Le Temps” provides a daily search in that time period.

    Query [paris newspaper 1889] Result

    “Many contemporary periodicals of the time covered the exposition in great detail. Daily newspapers include La Bataille, Le Cri du Peuple, La Construction Moderne, La Croix, L'Égalité, La Lanterne, Le Matin, Le Parti Ouvrier,Le Parisien, Le Petit Journal, Le Petit Parisien, Le Rappel, Le Soleil, Le Temps, and L'Univers. Weekly newspapers include La Bombe, L'Illustration, Le Journal Amusant, Le Journal Illustré, Le Pêre Peinard, and Le Pilori.”

    Query [paris periodicos archive 1889] Result

    Newspaper Archives / Indexes / Morgues - Library of Congress- In it I found an paper called the “Social Movement 1889 Quarterly Bulletin”. It discusses the official illumination of the Eiffel Tower and it didn’t go off without a few hitches. But one segment of society thought this was a great showcase for introducing electricity to the public. Here’s a couple of quotes:
    “Electricians use every available possiblity Within the Exhibition (62 class, lighting, strong current, illuminations, literature of extension, international congress s) in order to popularize and Their Their trades and products to win customers.”

    “What an opportunity to show some twenty-eight million people knew the progress control of electric current and its multiple applications!”

    So electricians got to show their work and as well Paris showed the world and in particular they talk about America, that they were ready to take on any competition America could throw at them.

    I did research a couple newspapers but Google Translate is behaving badly today for me. Now I was able to find day by day copies of Le Temps
    Mar 31-Apr 1, 1889 newspapers when the Eiffel Tower first opened and May 5-7, 1889 when the World Exposition of Paris opened the daily papers can be viewed. But Google Translate is hit & miss today so I’ve stopped. It might be searchable but otherwise it’s day by day.
    I have included the article in the Huffpost Arts & Culture May 6 2013 with the headline “Paris Exposition 1889 Anniversary: Eiffel Tower First Welcomed Visitors Today” because of it’s quote taken from Le Temps (can’t open link)
    “Although now the tower is one of the most beloved monuments of Paris and the world, it was originally snubbed by the artistic establishment, including architect Charles Garnier and painter Adolphe Bouguereau. In a petition published in "Le Temps" the indignant artists bemoaned the "monstrous" edifice:

    "We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."

    One final item I found was an paper written about Mr. Gustave Eiffel & the Tower in French. It may have additional information about the lights & public opinion but I have been unable to translate it. Here’s the link to the pdf shared

    1. I just checked my links and I see the “Le Temps” is not working
      as well the article Huffingpost
      The rest seem okay. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      I am going to have a look at these french daily newspapers to see if I find anything really interesting.

    2. I have looked a few more newspapers but must admit I haven’t figured out how to translate. Headlines haven’t helped much since they were squeezing as much info on to a multi-column page as possible. I did find another paper I believe by G. Eiffel dated 1900 that has more detail about the construction of the tower than most would want to read. Good drawings. Any suggestions on translating a long pdf document? Here’s a link to this shared pdf as well
      Paris newspapers -

  4. Merry New Year to all.

    My French 10 of 50 years ago wasn't up to much on this fascinating challenge.

    I found this

    1889 : For the evening of the Tower’s inauguration, 10,000 gas street lamps accented the steeple and platforms. Two projectors on the Tower top lit up the other Parisian monuments below. These blue-white-red beacon lights were considered the most powerful in the world.

    But that's as close as I got except for a few quips about the tower; The Great Lightning Conductor; Tower of Babel, Highful Tower

    I had a great read all about the design and construction of the tower via BOOKS
    Guide to the Eiffel Tower : the only "Guide" which are authorized for sale

    Front Cover
    Print. C. Marshal & J. Montorier 1889 - Eiffel Tower (Paris, France) - 48 pages

    I did look at Rosemary's article by M. Eiffel but I could not translate fast enough even though TRANSLATE was working fine.

    My Fail

    jon who really enjoyed discovering all this stuff anyway

  5. Anne and I worked on this for a while today. It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. Tried same searches that Ramon did. Got this site- We assumed since Dan was talking about the Golden lights that illuminate the Eiffel Tower that he was referring specifically to when those lights were first installed which was Dec. 31, 1985. We tried limiting searches to Dec. 1985- Jan. 1986. Tried searching news and then tried searching news for French language resources and got nothing. Then on a whim we decided to try searching the NY Times thinking that this must have been a major event worthy of some reporting. We did find this article
    Gave us much interesting info but not the exact reaction to the event. From what we gathered it seems that Parisiens like their monuments lit up!
    Happy New Year everyone. We are eagerly awaiting a big snowstorm here in NJ. We already have an early dismissal despite not one flake of snow having fallen yet.

  6. Just thought I would chime in here too. Yesterday was crazy busy. I found the link on the Eiffel Tower website that others did. Also under Themed Files there is Sparkling Moments in the History of the Eiffel Tower. From that timeline it is hard for me to discern which light show was first. I went back to the original post and then was distracted by what Dan wrote near the end "...and get a "sense of the time" from the people..." Does that mean not specific reactions to the light show but generally were people more critical of new conventions then they are today?

    Anyway, I got nothing by searching around specific dates in the Google News Archive. Today I tried [ paris newspaper archive ] to get thisWikipedia article. I have not had a chance to dive in yet but maybe others might be able to find something.

  7. I was thinking: Dr. Russell meant the first lights ever or the first "Light Show"?

    I tried some more queries and found:

    [intext:"eiffel tower lights 1889"]
    New Lights Illuminat Sky. Newspaper

    Eiffel Tower was first illuminated by some 4,000 incandescent bulbs in 1900

    [eiffel tower lights 1900 people response ]

    Dateline Paris 1900: The Astounding Moving Electrical Sidewalk

    [Parisians response|opinion Eiffel tower lights 1900]

    Eiffel Tower Images, data and more

  8. sadly created a two parter, incapable of editing at this point — pt. 1:

    I'm still in a bit of a nog & roasty chestynut stupor from the recent holidays and probably not up to a sRs
    query… but am puzzled by the question — why would the Normands even notice illumination on the tower with
    all the other lights and architectural jumble all about?
    pretty mountains around Paris
    … but a bit crowded under the tower
    ooops — good reminder to check my sources more carefully and maybe include [France] in the search phrase…
    apparently the images above are some sort of "London Bridge" thing from one of the N states… New Jersey,
    Nebraska, Nuevo Colocannabisrado or Nervadr… that probably explains the extra light and abundant water.
    (btw, wouldn't LV have been closer, quicker, slightly less expensive and not quite as hipster? and there was always
    Prague, Kiev, Tiblisi or Ulaanbaatar - heard they even did a little something in Dubai. But to each his own… I was
    15 kilometers off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, bobbing in the pre-Noël heat before heading to Bluff, NZ and then south,
    only to be airsick on a Chinese Kamov Ka-32 "Xueying" (Snow Eagle) … oh well, now that I'm at a friend's place in Caribou,
    am looking forward to post-dinner run to clear my jet-lagged head - seems a little breezy though. Luckily, none of this was work
    related either… ;))

    "After dark the tower was lit by hundreds of gas lamps and a beacon, at the top sent out three beams of red, white and blue light using two mobile projectors mounted on a circular rail. The opening and closing of the Exposition were announced every day by a cannon fired from the top."
    The E_T (fwiw - is now taller than the Chrysler/Fiat building, which is now the tallest building in Italy… must check source)
    has seen some strange and evolving times, with light and darkness playing varying roles over the timeline… a couple examples:
    at least it didn't become a full blown Mercedes, BMW, Audi/VW billboard…
    June, 1940
    would think that at this point the French are mainly just happy that the cast iron pieces are still vertical and no one gets electrocuted.
    and more history

  9. pt.2:
    Am still trying to sort out the Westminster Abbey/old D.C. Post Office/Bells of Congress dingdongs/Donald Trump connections from the previous week -
    like trying to think while listening to three and one half hours of pealing for wee George

    a couple other Tower bits of possible interest:
    design your own lighting scheme
    under flight
    Bill Overstreet
    the man
    parked under the ET?
    was feasible

    sláinte mhaith, fellow searchReSearchers - 2013 seemed to be an odd year, hopefully 2014 will be even…
    search on, in the light, with lightness.

    Dan, we have a sense of what Google includes, perhaps you might discuss at some point what is excluded - what is that process like (am thinking Snowden)
    did they light those mystery barges in the bay and will they be like the Eiffel?… and bony annie to you as well - here's hoping she is bella!

  10. could that be Dan, toward the back, right? if Edison and Eiffel can be there…
    time traveler
    Gus & Tom

    meant to include earlier - also from the darker time/realm, circa early forties:
    Dr Marcel Petiot
    Palais Bourb
    Gus & Tom
    another view
    an apartment with a view
    place de la concorde
    with tunes in the Tower, if it was a rockin', ne viennent pas frapper un.

  11. I searched English newspapers around the time the Tower opened. Lots of reporting from France but nothing on the first illumination in 1889.

    A great article I found was an account of the very first "baseball" game in England. The Americans had done a nice job of modifying the old game of "rounders" They had a hurler called a "pitcher" and a "catcher" to catch but no wicket. Reporter very impressed with ball control shown by the Americans. Time well wasted.


  12. I am voting for 2 days for both Anne and me! Sometimes finding the time is difficult and the extra day would really help us out!
    I am writing this from home as we had a beautiful snowstorm and now have another day off!

  13. Having an extra day does give us time to reflect upon our own search and view results of others. Since the challenges aren’t really time sensitive we can be inspired by others, learn effective search techniques rather than racing to find the first answer. This challenge is a perfect example because I see others took the challenge to mean recent lighting versus original lighting. I hadn’t even considered that but I appreciate that it could be viewed in that manner.

    There hasn’t (at least from at the time I posted this) been any quotes found suggesting public opinion regarding the lighting of the tower. We have found that there were lots of reactions to the project but that had more to do with the concept and design of the actual tower. Therefore I’ve come to the conclusion that “no news suggests the public opinion about lighting was not a main consideration”.

    I did finally have some luck downloading & translating 1889 newspapers from the Paris “Gallica” from the Bibliotec de Paris. I think this is an excellent source for historical documents in France. I tried finding the “Le Temp” since it was mentioned as containing comments . La Figura May 15 1889 does mention the Eiffel Tower and I believe it talks about public opinion. However after struggling with translation of the paper (which is possible with patience) the result was still a dog’s breakfast. Impossible to even the the gist of the discussion. Have a look at the newspaper especially if you can read french.