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Randy Treadway

The French have stolen the Unisphere!

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This evening I came across this postcard on a French web site.

2578.jpg

http://www.cpapassion.com/Thematiques/E ... po1900.htm

It's on a page that says all the cards shown are from the 1900 Paris Expositon Universelle, and the buildings in the foreground next to the Seine indeed look like pavilions from that World's Fair. But what's the Unisphere doing next to the Eifel Tower? If you know the scale of the Eifel Tower, that big ball is huge. And I've never seen a big ball-shaped building in any other photos or postcards from the 1900 Paris World's Fair.

All I can guess is that it's a hot air balloon being launched.

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Interesting photo, Randy.

Here's a clearer version of the same shot. It does does look like it might be some kind of inflatable structure, if not a hot air balloon. Maybe a turn-of-the-century restaurant called L' Rail du Brasse?

globe.jpg

But it doesn't appear in this aerial photo from the same period...

Exposition_universelle_1900.jpg

Hang on, though... here's another shot. Looks like from the above image it may have been called "Le Globe Celesté."

75_champ_mars_1900_mystere_n.jpg

A-ha! Here's another great pic with a French description I translated using BabelFish:

normal_panorama_ns_008_171_03.jpg

Le Globe Céleste est une gigantesque sphère de 46 mètres de diamètre, décorée de peintures représentant les constellation et supportée par de massifs piliers ornés de figures mythologiques. A l'intérieur, une seconde sphère reproduit un magnifique spectacle des révolutions planétaires. Derrière le Globe Céleste se profilent les quatre campaniles et la silhouette majestueuse de la Tour Eiffel.

Globe Céleste is a gigantic sphere 46 meters in diameter, decorated with paintings representing the constellation and supported by solid masses pillars decorated with mythological figures. At the interior, one second sphere reproduces a splendid spectacle of the planetary revolutions. Behind the Celestial Earth the four bell-towers and the majestic silhouette of the Eiffel Tower are profiled.

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But it doesn't appear in this aerial photo from the same period...

It's just out of frame to the right, as seen in this larger view:

paris-expo1900.jpg

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Cool pictures, Trey and Randy L !

So it really was a sort of Unisphere-like globe, but not with an open framework. And did I read it right, that it had one inner globe inside the outer globe? Would be interesting to see cross-section drawings, or some interior photos.

I wouldn't expect much from 1900 though, although what you've found today is surprising all right!

46 meters across is pretty darn big. How does that size compare to the Unisphere?

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Apparently the one that was built- 46 meters in diameter- was just a quarter of the size of the one that was first designed (and apparently construction had begun on it if the mention of a melt-down proposal is accurate)....

Il était une fois le globe d'Élisée

Une gigantesque boule de 160 mètres de diamètre, soutenue par quatre piliers de plusieurs mètres de hauteur, c'est le monument qui faillit trôner sur la place du Trocadéro à partir de 1900. L'initiateur de ce projet n'était autre que le célèbre géographe Elisée Reclus, qui le proposa dès 1895 dans la perspective de l'Exposition universelle qui devait se tenir cette année-là. La boule était censée représenter le globe lui-même, à l'échelle 1/80000 !

Dans l'esprit de l'auteur de La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, une telle représentation devait offrir une alternative à la traditionnelle représentation cartographique qu'il jugeait irréaliste et peu à même de permettre au commun des mortels d'accéder à une véritable connaissance du monde.

Elaboré, son projet prévoyait d'aménager, au sein de la boule, une seconde sphère, mobile, et dont les visiteurs auraient pu parcourir la surface grâce à un ingénieux système de déambulation enroulé en spirale.

Outil pédagogique, cette sphère était aussi conçue comme un instrument de travail pour les géographes et les mathématiciens, E. Reclus prévoyant des mises à jour en fonction des avancées scientifiques. Salles d'exposition et bibliothèque étaient également prévues. Pédagogique et scientifique, la finalité du projet était aussi politique, la contemplation de la Terre saisie dans son unité étant censée nourrir le sentiment d'une commune appartenance des hommes à la Terre, au-delà de leur identité nationale. Le coût de l'ensemble était estimé à 20 millions de francs de l'époque, soit deux fois et demi le coût de la tour Eiffel inaugurée lors de l'Exposition universelle de 1889 !

Comme on s'en doute, le projet ne vit jamais le jour malgré des révisions successives à la baisse de la taille des deux sphères. C'est E. Reclus lui-même qui préféra y renoncer, en 1898, après trois années de lutte acharnée, plutôt que d'accepter de le fondre, comme on le lui proposa, avec d'autres projets concurrents, comme le Globe céleste d'un certain Albert Galeron, davantage tourné vers la distraction du public et la rentabilité commerciale. Curieusement, observe Soizic Alavoine-Muller qui relate cette histoire dans la dernière livraison de L'Espace géographique, E. Reclus ne sembla pas garder la moindre amertume de son échec. A son ami le photographe Nadar, qui l'interrogea à ce sujet, il fit la réponse suivante : « S'il ne se fait pas sous mon nom, il se fera sous d'autres, plus grand, plus beau. Nos fils et nos petits-fils travailleront mieux que nous. » A bon entendeur...

It was once the sphere of Élisée

It was once the sphere of Élisée A gigantic ball 160 meters in diameter, supported by four pillars of several meters height, it is the monument which failed trôner on the place of Trocadéro since 1900. The initiator of this project was not other than geographer Elisee Reclus celebrates it, who proposed it since 1895 from the point of view of the World Fair which was to be held this year. The ball was supposed to represent the sphere itself, on scale 1/80000! In the spirit of the author of the New universal Geography, such a representation was to offer an alternative to the traditional cartographic representation which it judged unrealistic and not very capable to allow the common run of people to reach a true knowledge of the world. Worked out, its project envisaged to arrange, within the ball, one second sphere, mobile, and whose visitors could have traversed surface thanks to a clever system of ambulation rolled up in spiral. Teaching aid, this sphere was also designed like an instrument of work for the geographers and the mathematicians, E. Recluse envisaging of the updates according to the scientific projections. Showrooms and library were also envisaged. Teaching and scientific, the finality of the project was also political, the contemplation of the Earth seized in its unit being supposed to nourish the feeling of a common membership of the men to the Earth, beyond their national identity. The cost of the unit was estimated at 20 million frank the time, that is to say twice and half the cost of the Eiffel tower inaugurated during the World Fair of 1889! Like one suspects it, the project was born never in spite of successive revisions with the fall of the size of the two spheres. It is E. Recluse himself which preferred to give up it, in 1898, after three years of baited fight, rather than to agree to melt it, as it was proposed to him, with other competitor projects, like the celestial Earth of a certain Albert Galeron, more turned towards the distraction of the public and commercial profitability. Curiously, Soizic Alavoine-Muller observes which reports this history in the last delivery of geographical Space, E. Recluse did not seem to keep the least bitterness of its failure. To his friend the Nadar photographer, who questioned it on this subject, it made the following answer: “If it is not done under my name, it will be done under others, larger, more beautiful. Our sons and our grandsons will work better than us. ” To the wise…

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It is E. Recluse himself which preferred to give up it, in 1898, after three years of baited fight, rather than to agree to melt it, as it was proposed to him, with other competitor projects, like the celestial Earth of a certain Albert Galeron, more turned towards the distraction of the public and commercial profitability.

Now that I read and re-read that awkward computer translation, perhaps it is not literally 'melt', as in melt down structural beams which had already been constructed, but meld, as in melding efforts, or we might say 'combining forces' with other World's Fair projects with similar though smaller ambitions, so as to make better use of scarce financial resources.

It would seem that after three years of having his proposal down-sized time after time after time because of cost constraints and not having any construction at all started with the Expo's opening just weeks away (I found one other reference that says the project wasn't abandoned until 1900, not 1898), he grew weary and just quit, rather that team up with Galeron. Maybe it was five years of effort, and not three.

Anyway, it is Galeron's smaller Sphere (though still huge) that we see in the photographs.

If the description that Trey found is correct, it would seem that Galeron stole many of Recluse's concepts, including the globe-inside-a-globe.

And the 'commercial profitability' angle, rather than Recluse's purely educational motives, might have resulted in what looks like a tram ride around the orbital ring....

And Galeron? He went on to a spectacular career, being commissioned as chief architect for a major re-working of Budapest, Hungary. Many of Budapest's classic buildings were designed by Galeron. The Hungarians spell his name Galleron.

Maybe one of our French-literate PTUers can provide us a more accurate English translation of the pertinent points in the French narrative posted here in the two accounts.

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I managed to tap into a complete scanned copy of the final 1903 report on the 1900 Paris World's Fair. It includes this description of the big globe.

Can one of our French-speaking PTUers take a shot at translating this for us? I tried, using Google translator (a word-by-word translation) but it came out pretty mangled.

I did seem to get out of it that it did indeed feature access via the orbital ring on the outside.

And the second globe INSIDE represented the earth, while the universe of stars in the correct constellations as viewable from Paris was on the INSIDE surface of the outer globe. Viewers were on some kind of platform attached to the inside "earth" globe, which rotated at a speed proportional to the earth's rotation, and visitors were made to believe that the earth was stationary and the stars were rotating, when it was really the other way a round. And everything regarding the sun and the moon, light and dark, changes of seasons, etc. relative to the earth's position were simulated correctly.

Also there was some kind of castrophic accident, where the platform that was constructed of concrete collapsed, and it was replaced by a wooden version.

That's about all that I could make out if it, but it sounded interesting enough that a better translation is warranted. Anybody want to take a stab at it?

Globe_descrip.jpg

The complete final report seems pretty comprehensive- there's even a fire department report showing that they responded to three different fires at pavilions, two of which they list as "set". Arson, perhaps? Or just my bad translation? "Set" probably means something totally different in French.

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Uh hello? This is a very interesting thread and all...But isn't anyone going to mention the fact that, in addition to stealing the Unisphere (as well as the constellation ceiling of Grand Central Terminal), the French have also blatantly ripped-off ANOTHER signature NYWF element?

Look again at those photos above that show the globe appearing to be situated right next to the Eiffel Tower (which I realize isn't actually the case, but bear with me). Now imagine someone saying: "Madams et monsieurs, we are proud to present to you for the first time anywhere...Le Trylone et Le Perisphere!"

Geez, what gall to steal not one, but TWO NYWF theme building ideas! I'll bet the Paris Expo had a time machine somewhere on the grounds and they used this to do their pilfering! I wonder if that time machine is still around today...we could all finally take those long awaited trips back to the Fairs.

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Uh hello? This is a very interesting thread and all...But isn't anyone going to mention the fact that, in addition to stealing the Unisphere (as well as the constellation ceiling of Grand Central Terminal), the French have also blatantly ripped-off ANOTHER signature NYWF element?

Look again at those photos above that show the globe appearing to be situated right next to the Eiffel Tower (which I realize isn't actually the case, but bear with me). Now imagine someone saying: "Madams et monsieurs, we are proud to present to you for the first time anywhere...Le Trylone et Le Perisphere!"

Geez, what gall to steal not one, but TWO NYWF theme building ideas! I'll bet the Paris Expo had a time machine somewhere on the grounds and they used this to do their pilfering! I wonder if that time machine is still around today...we could all finally take those long awaited trips back to the Fairs.

What do you expect, Glen, from a country whose culture is described as Gallic!

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So, the French stole all three- the Unisphere, the Trylon, and the Perisphere- from us Amurricans.

But where did the Americans get those ideas?

Here's little Grover Whalen, spending many, many hours in the school room exiled to the corner for being an idiot.

dunce1.jpg

Years later, when he they needed an idiot to organize a World's Fair, an idea suddenly came to him, seemingly out of nowhere......

1101390501_400.jpg

That's just like the French. With as rich a culture as America has, they choose to steal the idea of a dunce hat to turn it into a tourist attraction, and then worship Jerry Lewis.

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Geez, what gall to steal not one, but TWO NYWF theme building ideas! I'll bet the Paris Expo had a time machine somewhere on the grounds and they used this to do their pilfering! I wonder if that time machine is still around today...we could all finally take those long awaited trips back to the Fairs.

They must keep the machine in a P.O. box---

ATT00011.jpg

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I absolutely believe the resemblance is no coincidence. Please prove me wrong.

In the past I have referred to the Trylon and Perisphere as "ball and pointy thing" alluding to my inexpert knowledge of the NYWF39. I do know what they are properly called. After a year with PTU I've advanced from a simple NYWF64-65er and gained a broader appreciation of other Fairs thanks to your STUNNING photographs and fascinating posts.

I recently stumbled on a similar photo to Randy's topic starter that I thought was a smoking gun regarding the origin of the T&P and was preparing to post the fact. But for due diligence I first searched for "celeste" and found this thread.

Sure, I knew the Eiffel Tower was built for the Fair. But I did NOT know there was in the immediate vicinity a globe of such prominence as to appear a, uh... ball and pointy thing, redux?

The Eiffel Tower and Globe Celeste look like obvious precursors of the T&P from the perspective of several prominent photos and postcards. I'm 52 years old, not cloistered, and my ears perk up for buzz about the NYWFs. I have not once heard previous mention about what seems to me an obvious lineage!

I would guess the planners took the Eiffel Tower and Globe Celeste, applied the Art Deco, minimalist, design sense of the time and reduced them to their essential forms resulting in the stark white Trylon and Perisphere. An homage. A moderne evolution. Either that or they had a brilliant concept for future salt and pepper shakers.

The structures might have been far apart, but how many Americans actually travelled to Paris in 1900 compared to the number that viewed the photograph rendering them adjacent? Even today Neil Leifer's photo of Mohammed Ali "standing over" a supine Sonny Liston is iconic because of its angle, even though there was plenty of space between the two and Ali was not gloating over his foe as the false perspective of the shot implies.

Here's what I'm thinking.

It's your job to design a theme for the 1939 NYWF. How do you come up with ideas? Well, you research what was done at previous Fairs. There's no jet travel. You've never been out of the state, let alone the country. You open books and look at photos. You see the Eiffel Tower and Globe Celeste in striking juxtaposition. "Voila!" You say! Let's echo those shapes in our Fair! We'll link the Fairs together showing our connection to and advancement beyond Europe in the historical context of Progress. (Before that became a dirty word)

History does not repeat, but it rhymes.

Is there documentation of a conscious effort to maintain and advance Paris' WF "logo" if there was such a concept at the time? Is there ANY documentation of the conceptualization of the T&P proving otherwise?

What was the thinking behind designing the ball and poin, I mean the Trylon and Perisphere?

I'm serious about that!

Not so serious about this:

So if the T&P WERE a homage to Paris 1900, was the '62 Seattle Fair's Space Needle and the NYWF64-65 Unisphere a conscious attempt at continuing the same T&P motif but spatially and temporarily distant across years and a continent? Maybe they didn't have enough funds to build them both at once!

Might that explain why they are the two remaining structures of each Fair??? (NYSP clearly remains as an alien spacecraft repository)

Remember the talk back then about, "California falling into the sea?" Maybe, just maybe, they were planning for continental drift to eventually bring them together at the same time the time capsules are recovered! Yeah. Now THAT is Robert Moses caliber long range planning!

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Thank you for posting those images of the Paris Exposition. I disagree with an earlier post in that we can expect a great deal from these earlier fairs. They were wonders of their time and they would astound us even today. I have seen that globe in other photographs but the view from the Eiffel Tower is incredible. Thank you.

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xl5er, that is hilarious! Good job. Now that you mention it, they do look similar to the Theme Centre in the photo. To me, the whole front stretch of the 1900 Paris Exposition is incredible, not to victorian architecture, nor art deco, not even renaissance, but a combination of all the above. To have a planning board approve and build such a structure that was temporary is just incredible. The same gœs for all the following fairs, prominently the 1939 NYWF Always thought that the T&P would have been great centrepeice of FMCP

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"...Is there ANY documentation of the conceptualization of the T&P proving otherwise..."

Well, offhand there are the linen Tichnor postcards of an early Theme Center which actually resembles the building centrally located in the Democracity. There are early concepts by the designers, some of which can be seen in Trylon and Perisphere by Cohen, Chwast and Heller if memory serves. And I recall seeing some renderings submitted for the Theme Center in the show Drawing the Future: Designs for the 1939 New York World's Fair at the Museum of the City of NY. I can't recall but there might be something in the QM catalogue from 1980 as well.

MB

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So, the French stole all three- the Unisphere, the Trylon, and the Perisphere- from us Amurricans.

But where did the Americans get those ideas?

Here's little Grover Whalen, spending many, many hours in the school room exiled to the corner for being an idiot.

dunce1.jpg

Years later, when he they needed an idiot to organize a World's Fair, an idea suddenly came to him, seemingly out of nowhere......

1101390501_400.jpg

That's just like the French. With as rich a culture as America has, they choose to steal the idea of a dunce hat to turn it into a tourist attraction, and then worship Jerry Lewis.

The picture with the young Whelan in school sort of suggests the inspiration for the trylon came from the dunce cap he was wearing. "Someday", little Grover thought, "I'm gonna show the teacher I'm no dunce by building a dunce cap 610 feet tall !"

DC

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