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Workers' restaurant - Expo Paris 1867

Workers' restaurant at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

In 1862, a happy thought caused some delegates of the workers of Paris and Lyons to be sent to the London Exhibition, appointed by the vote of their comrades. As soon as the programme of the Exhibition of 1867 was known, where a whole group, Group X, was charged with studying everything connected with the material, moral and intellectual improvement of the population, workers from all over Europe thought of taking advantage of this solemn occasion to come and study on the spot the social questions which interested them most.

Already the meeting of the offices of the 10th group had collected the elements of the survey of labour in the principal industrial establishments of Europe, a work to which the author of these lines is pleased to have contributed, when a decree appointed a special high jury for the new order of awards, and a ministerial decree convened a Commission for the encouragement of workers' studies.

This Commission, presided over by the Honourable M. Devinck, was charged with convening a special high jury for the new order of awards. This Commission, presided over by the Honourable M. Devinck, was charged with convening the workers of the whole of France for the election of their delegates to the Exhibition, and with providing for their accommodation and food in the best possible conditions, at the same time as assisting in their studies the delegates who had recourse to its good offices. The remarkable thing about this administratively appointed Commission is that it was taken from outside the administrative staff, and that it is composed solely of notable industrialists and some journalists.

The restaurant shown in one of our drawings is a creation of the Promotion Commission. It has, parallel to the Avenue Lamothe-Piquet, a hundred meters of frontage, forming a long gallery seven meters wide, in which eight hundred consumers can be seated at a time. On the Champ de Mars side, a rotunda has been added to this truly monumental gallery, under which the restaurant's kitchens and cellars are located.

This vast establishment can serve eight thousand meals a day, at an average price of 1.25 francs, including wine. I do not believe that a single complaint has been made so far about the food distributed at this reduced price, so true is it that the law of large numbers exerts its beneficent and miraculous power here as elsewhere.

The agglomeration of the infinitely small, which manages to bring out, from the bosom of the waters, creepers, islands and continents, creates here abundance in the cheap, in a city where the tide of prices is constantly rising.

It is not only an omnibus restaurant that the Incentive Commission has founded, it is also a vast construction where I 200 beds will find place, at the very threshold of the Rapp door. If the salary travellers abound, as is to be believed, the solicitude of the Incentive Commission has provided them with cutlery for 5,000 beds. It has also provided them with eminent professors in each speciality who will lead the delegates through the classes of the Exhibition, as much as through the world, giving them demonstrative and ambulatory lectures.

Ah! what good can be done, by wanting good! Our dear and honoured President, M. Devinck, must know this, as he best sums up in his beautiful soul the virtues of the intelligent bourgeoisie, and the generous and free instincts of democracy in search of progress.

I wish this to be a lasting testimony to the good he has done and continues to do without ever tiring, as much as to the respectful devotion I bear him.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée