Unforgettable forgotten moments from the past are pictured in this romp called “Unrocognizable Paris: The Monuments that Vanished,” on the blog MessynessyChic.com. The well-illustrated piece recalls when the Champ de Mars was filled with monuments made of “staff,” a mixture of plaster of Paris and other elements. That is the substance used to create one of the earliest and most influential of world’s fairs, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which lasted for six months in 1893. It was seen by about a quarter of the U.S. population, which had neither cars nor planes but only trains for transport. It sparked the City Beautiful Movement. Cties around the country redesigned their civic centers in the classical manner based on the White City. Some later critics considered it grandiose but have not come up with anything better. Of course, it no longer exists. Fire took much of it after the fair closed. Too bad it was built of staff!
Many of the buildings and statues of the [Paris] world’s fair were made of staff, a low-cost temporary building material invented in Paris in 1876, which consisted of jute fiber, plaster of Paris, and cement. Often the temporary buildings were built on a framework of wood, and covered with staff, which was formed into columns, statuary, walls, stairs, etc. After the fair was over, the buildings were demolished and and all items and materials that could be salvaged and sold were “recycled.”
This messynessychic.com article, whose authorship is not identified, deals with the Exposition Universelle of 1900, in Paris. It was this world’s fair that gave Paris its famous moniker, the City of Light. The first Olympics outside of Greece took place in Paris at the same time. The fair celebrated advances in the new technology called electricity. The Eiffel Tower was painted yellow for the occasion. A third of the way down is a fascinating film clip of the fair shot by Thomas Edison (or one of his workers). Also note a photo of the movable sidewalk in which a woman is losing her balance. Fascinating stuff!
Hats off to Gary Brewer for sending the link to TradArch.