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Gas service at the Champ de Mars

Missing picture

They want me to talk about the gas service in the same way as I talked about the water service. But to describe the water service, I at least had a pretext: it was the water tower of which one of our draughtsmen had provided me with a drawing. For the gas service, there is no drawing possible, unless you want to draw the two enormous meters that receive the gas when it arrives in front of the Porte d'Iéna, - which would be very unpicturesque.

So this time we have to walk without drawing, and violating the law we have imposed on ourselves.

The distribution of gas was made parallel to that of water, and in the same trench; which, to say it in passing, presents certain inconveniences - unavoidable, it is true, but which should not be overlooked. It may very well happen that a water pipe breaks, causing a considerable settlement in the neighbouring land of the same trench due to the effect of imbibition, and that this settlement causes the gas pipe to break. The savings in time and labour that were found in putting gas and water in the same bed can serve as an excuse, but not as sufficient justification.

The arrival of the gas at the Champ de Mars is done by means of a cast iron tube, of a diameter even more considerable than that of the large Prussian cannon, since it measures 50 centimetres. This pipe starts from the factories of the City of Paris, and, passing under the pavement above the Pont d'Iéna, divides to go to the two enormous meters of which we spoke just now, installed in a special building near the great gate of the Champ de Mars. In each of these containers, there is enough to supply 5000 spouts.

From there, the gas goes back through pipes of 35 that radiate in all directions around the Park and decrease to the diameter of 10, as they are extended.

We say that they radiate around the Park. For gas is absolutely banned from the Palace, not only as dangerous but also as useless. Why should gas have been allowed into the Palace, since the Palace closes at 6 o'clock in the evening? For the same reason the Central Garden, which is enclosed in the Palace, is also deprived of gas.

With regard to the Central Garden, the first thought was to shelter it from the sun either by a velum or by trees with bunches. Trees and velum have been transformed into etic rosebushes, which give neither shade nor freshness and hardly any perfume.

I fear that this economy of trees and velum will make the Central Garden unaffordable during the heat wave. There is still time to remedy this; and that is why we have allowed ourselves this short digression.

So, gas, which does not have the same service as water in the Palace, does not have the same pipe development. The water pipe is 12,000 metres long. The gas pipeline is only 6,000 metres long. But on the other hand, gas has more connections than water, because it has to serve all the concessions in the Park without distinction. These lead connections attached to the pipes measure 5000 metres in length.

All the piping is at the expense of the Imperial Commission: all the connections are at the expense of the concessionaires or exhibitors.

But the Imperial Commission, in addition to the cost of the main pipes, also paid for :
600 candelabras, of the model of those of the city of Paris, intended to light the various alleys of the Park in the evening;
330 lamps with frosted glass globes, ingeniously suspended from the marquee of the external walkway of the palace, forming a luminous garland of the most charming effect;
252 three-branched girandoles, fixed to the fronts of the restaurants and cafés that occupy the outside promenoir;
This gives a total of 1686 spouts supplied and maintained by the Imperial Commission, in addition to the installation costs.

This was an expense that the London organisers could not even think of bearing, since the solitude was around the Crystal Palace before nightfall.

The concessionaires of the Champ de Mars adopted the system of lighting which suited them and the arrangements which seemed to them the most advantageous. However, interior lighting is a compulsory service for each of them. Each has its own meter. The price imposed on them is 30 centimes per cubic metre; this is the same rate as that of the city of Paris. Each nozzle burns an average of 140 litres per hour, which represents an expense of a little more than 4 centimes per hour per nozzle.

The meters can supply 10,000 spouts at a time. Look at the amount of combustion that represents! If the lighting of the Champ de Mars were staggered like that of the Trocadero, it would produce an even more magical overall effect.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée