Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Measure for Measure
Among the enduring innovations of the French revolution was the adoption of the metric system of measurement. Others such as adoption of a new calendar with 10 day weeks barely lasted for 10 years. Interestingly, the last state use of the guillotine was 1981, just before France abolished the death penalty altogether.
While the U.S. remains firmly entrenched in the dark ages in its adherence to conventional measures (out of sheer stubborness as far as I can tell), the rest of the world got with the program. Situated under the colonnade on rue Vaugirard opposite the French Senate and the Luxembourg Gardens, this is one of 16 standard meters that were posted around Paris between February 1796 and December 1797 to educate the public about the new system. Of those, only two remain. Moreover, the one pictured here is the only one that can still be found in the site where it was originally placed.