Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Flood of 1910

There was a horrible flood in Paris in 1910, so bad that the Seine overflowed its banks, bringing the city to a near standstill. At its peak, the Seine was some 20 feet above its normal level. The Zouave who stands below the Pont de l'Alma was literally up to his neck in water. Some 20,000 buildings housing 200,000 people were affected.

Today the Seine sits so low relative to the banks that it's hard to imagine that it ever approached the level of the quais. But there are still reminders of this natural disaster. Last week, I noticed this mark on a building on rue de Bellechasse, just a block or so from the Musee d'Orsay in the 7th arrondissement. During the flood, the Orsay (then a train station) was completely flooded, its tracks under water.



Despite a hundred years of technological progress, the authorities say that it could happen again. Better have your boots ready.

7 comments:

debbie in toronto said...

as always thanks for the history lesson....can you clear something up for me..how do you pronounce quai?...is it "Key" like we pronounce Quay here or is it something else...

Anne said...

Debbie: Hooray! A French question I can answer. It's pronounced kay as in okay.

debbie in toronto said...

that's what I figured..good don't want to sound like a "newb" next time I'm there....merci beaucoup.

Starman said...

Imagine the flooding problems in Venice.
They were expecting a similar flood in 2002. There was flooding, but it never got that bad.

preppyplayer said...

All I can think of when you say that this might happen again?
Is my favorite museum on earth with ruined artwork... I can't remember what is on the ground floor... sculpture hopefully?

Gator said...

Preppyplayer, don't worry, floods are not like earthquakes, you see them coming. When a French river like the Seine overflows, it takes several days. And museums are prepared for those kinds of incidents.

I recently found a book with tons of pictures from the flood. It was pretty amazing, I kinda regret not buying it.

When I was a kid, my hometown (at least the parts next to the river, that's the Garonne river if you wonder) would get flooded once in a while. That was pretty... interesting (I lived far from the river, I'm not sure the people involved would call it the same way), but in the 80's they did lots of construction (dams, "river walls" etc) to canalize it, it hasn't overflown since.

And to tell the truth, I'd love to see Paris under water, that would be an interesting experience (saying that, I think the water reached my street in 1910)

Anonymous said...

For more on the history of the 1910 flood, see the new book "Paris Under Water" and the website http://www.parisunderwater.com.

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