Sunday, 12 February 2012

Too Old To Smoke

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Too Old To Smoke ~

Too Old To Smoke, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
BONUS: For Street Photography Fans!

Paris and chimneys go back a long way together; of that there is no doubt. In fact, all manner of tubes, pipes and other hollow cylinders sprout up all over the city.

Not many look like this tall red brick structure, however, and indeed it belongs to a unique and impressive monument to the bygone industrial age: the old compressed air factory of the 13th arrondissement.

The factory lies almost in the shadow of the now defunct Petite Ceinture railway, and its chimney proudly proclaims 1890 as its date of construction.

So what did Parisians need compressed air for back at the end of the 19th century.

Well, I imagine new possibilities were springing to inventors' minds as the new technology was emerging, but three of the best known uses include two rather surprising ones. The most obvious or least surprising today, I guess, would be for hydraulic lift systems.

The next two were new to me and utterly fascinating. Did you know you could make a clock function with compressed air? Well you can, and clocks in railway stations in particular employed this system, which was handy as most of the station clocks were in highly inaccessibly high-up places.

The other interesting use was in a legendary system of pushing despatches along tubes which linked some of the most important buildings in the city and were known as pneumatics, which were finally abandoned in 1984. You can imagine some of the history-changing messages which must have been propulsed through these intriguing tubes over the years, especially during wartime.

Another intriguing aspect of the factory is that it has some of its insides out, which might remind you of another, rather more famous, central Parisian building with the same characteristic.

Now its future is as a branch of an architecture school, which is rather fitting really.

And why not...
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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