On the 21st of January in 1910, after heavy rainfall, the River Seine rose and flooded Paris, bringing the city to a standstill. The city transformed itself briefly into “a reluctant Venice”, with makeshift wooden walkways and small boats being used to traverse the city streets. Because the water rose slowly, there were no fatalities but police, firemen and the army took to boats in order to rescue the Parisiennes who were trapped in their homes by the rising water.
After months of unusually wet weather in 1909, January 1910 brought even heavier rainfall that, combined with faulty engineering, swelled the waters of the Seine. The river eventually rose to 26 feet above normal levels, flooding the streets and squares of central Paris.
For a time, Paris looked more like Venice: famous boulevards turned into canals, and boats replaced the flooded Métro tunnels as the preferred mode of transportation. This novel and strangely beautiful urban landscape drew the attention of artists and photographers from around the world.
There’s a gorgeous collection of photographs online: Photos of Paris flood, 1910. The water reached its peak on the 28th at 8.62 metres (28 feet 3 inches). A month later the water had receded completely.
Meanwhile, a hundred and one years later on the 21st of January 2011, many stunning photographs were taken. I wonder if they’ll be considered important documentation in the next century?
Take a moment to say hello to the photographers:
Taking part is easy – just take a photo on a Saturday and tweet the url and location to @SatScenes to be included in next week’s round-up!