Monday, November 30, 2015

Parisian Street Life

The Bataclan Theater a Century Ago
From The New York Times:
Although the top of its Chinese-style pagoda no longer remains — it was destroyed in a fire in the 1930s — the building still functions more or less as it once did. From vaudeville shows to films, punk-rock shows, tango dancing and comedy acts, the Bataclan has evolved again and again to adapt to contemporary Parisian tastes.

These images attest to the fact that there is something essential to the experience of living in Paris that involves spending time outside on its streets, whether to shop, observe, drink, eat, dance, talk or listen. Despite all of the technological innovations since the end of the nineteenth century that give Parisians incentives to stay at home — televisions, computers, refrigerators, washing machines and even toilets — people still go out because going out is something that Paris invites us to do. And when people go out, it is to the same places — quite literally inside the same walls — as generations of Parisians before them.

As I walked along the canal on the way to work this morning, three days after the attacks, the cafe terraces were busy as usual, despite the sadness permeating the air. Paris is lucky to have a built environment that is resilient against change, as it only makes the rhythms and practices of urban life harder to change. You are almost obliged, by going out into the city, to perform your daily rituals: grabbing a coffee at the bar, buying a newspaper. Its architecture invites people to continue to explore, to take wrong turns, to fall in love, to protest and simply to have a drink in the same places, streets and buildings that countless others have in the past. Life within them has survived ill-fated laws prohibiting public drinking, years of German occupation and terrorist attacks from anarchists, anti-colonialists and others. After all these years, people continue to roll up their sleeves, eat and drink on the same corners. In the long shadow of the horse-drawn carriage, it is unlikely that will change. (Read more.)

No comments: