Today in Transportation Histoire – 1900: A New Way to Get Around the City of Lights

In France, the first line of a new rapid transit system in Paris opened without ceremony. The Paris Métro made its debut while the city was hosting the World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle).

“The line extends across the whole of Paris, from Vincennes to the Paris Maillot, Bois de Boulogne,” reported the London-based Standard newspaper. “It may be difficult to predict whether the Parisian will patronize this underground railway sufficiently to make it a financial success, but it will certainly prove a most convenient and rapid means of communication for those living in the vicinity of the stations.” The article further noted, “The carriages are extremely comfortable, as was also today the cool temperature in the tunnels, compared to the excessive heat in the streets.” Approximately 30,000 people traveled on the Paris Métro on its opening day.

Fulgence Bienvenüe served as the chief engineer for building the Paris Métro and, through his considerable expertise and innovations, proved to be the pivotal figure in the comparatively fast-paced and controversy-free construction of this transportation network.  Bienvenüe earned widespread acclaim for making the railway a reality and became known as “Le Pére du Métro” (Father of the Métro).

Carte postale ancienne éditée par les Magasins Réunis, n°171 :
PARIS – Station du Métropolitain – Place de la Bastille

Another key contributor to the development of the Paris Métro was renowned architect Hector Guimard, who designed the entrances to the railway’s stations in an Art Nouveau style. More than 80 of these entrances still exist today.

The Paris Métro, which now encompasses 16 lines and covers 133 miles, has become a leading symbol of the City of Light. With an average daily ridership of about four million, the Paris Métro is the 10th busiest subway system worldwide and ranks second only to the Moscow Metro as the busiest in Europe.

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