I want, by means of a graphic plan, to explain the admirable order of the Exhibition of 1867, so that nothing is lost of the great event of the nineteenth century, after the Palais du Champ de Mars has disappeared.
Every graphic plan needs to be explained, otherwise the attention is lost in the details, without being able to grasp the whole: it is like a field where the brambles choke the useful vegetation.
Having said this, let us proceed with the explanation.
The space occupied by the Palace measures 146,000 square metres, 482 metres long and 370 metres wide. The middle aisle along the length forms the long axis; the middle aisle along the width forms the short axis. The great difference between the length and width of the Palace is redeemed in the centre by the configuration of the central garden, so as to give the various transverse aisles that lead from the ends to the centre of the Palace the same course, 150 metres.
There are sixteen of these transverse alleys, known as radiating alleys because they form an angle around the Palace, the opening of which is directed towards the extremities; the space included in the angle they form is called a sector: there are therefore sixteen sectors. France occupies seven of them, included, on the left of the large vestibule forming one of the sides of the great axis, between the rue d'Alsace, the rue de Normandie, the rue de Flandre, the rue de Paris (median avenue of the small axis), the rue de Lorraine, the rue de Provence and the rue des Pays-Bas; Holland and Belgium occupy a sector between the rue des Pays-Bas and the rue de Belgique (median avenue of this side of the great axis); Prussia and the Confederation of the North occupy a sector as far as the rue de Prusse the so-called Confederation of the South, Hesse, Baden, Bavaria and Württemberg, also occupy a sector up to the Rue d'Autriche; Austria and Switzerland, a sector up to the Rue d'Espagne; Spain, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and Russia, also a sector up to the Rue de Russie, forming the other part of the median avenue of the minor axis; Italy, Rome, Danubian Principalities, Turkey, Egypt, China, Japan, Siam, Tunis and Morocco, a sector up to Africa Street; the United States, Brazil, Mexico and the Southern Republics, a sector up to India Street. England's colonies encroach on this last sector, which bears the number 14: it occupies entirely the two remaining sectors, between the rue des Indes, the rue d'Angleterre and the grand vestibule.
Just as the radiating streets that we have just designated have an equality of route, so the sectors whose border they close have an equality of space. The distributions of the Palace have therefore been calculated with admirable precision.
I said earlier that the difference in length and width of the central garden had been calculated in such a way as to re-establish the equality of route between the various radiating streets. In fact, the Central Garden is 166 metres long and only 56 metres wide. This difference between the length and width of the central garden restores the equality of route between the various radiating streets of the Palace.
But the radiating lanes are only one of two parts of the system of arrangement: there are the concentric lanes which cross the radiating lanes at various latitudes, and by which one can follow the display of products of the same category, to whatever nation they belong, all around the Palace.
Starting from the central garden, and whatever direction one takes, one finds first of all the gallery or concentric path of the History of Work which, because of the value and rarity of the products exhibited, required less space than the other galleries. Then came the Fine Arts gallery which, for the same reasons, required less space than the Liberal Arts section which follows.
As the angle formed by the radiating streets widens, we come to the latitude of the Furnishings gallery, then to the Clothing gallery, then to the Raw Materials gallery, and finally to the Machines or Works of Art gallery. Finally, when we reach the outer perimeter of the Palace, under the covered walkway, we find the Food and Beverage area, the part occupied by restaurants, brasseries, pastry shops and date vendors. The beautiful drawing by Mr. Kiertz has rendered the effect of this outdoor walkway at night, i.e. during the hours when the Palace is closed.
The outer walkway measures 1413 metres in circumference. Did Rabelais' imagination ever dream of such a trifle?
The English shrug their shoulders at this display of food and drink; but they enjoy it. If they were obliged to go out of the Champ de Mars to lunch, they would cry out loud, claiming that it had been arranged, especially for them, to charge them double admission. We were the ones who could say that in London.
If we started from the Central Garden to describe the Palace, it is because we wanted to place ourselves in the centre of this vast spider's web to better show its admirable context.
As for the details of construction and installation, we refer our readers to the beginning of our publication; we have nothing to take away from what we have said: we would rather be tempted to add to it.
Thanks to our linear drawing, from which we have pruned all unnecessary superimpositions, it will be possible to follow all the essential arrangements of the Palace, without possible confusion.
In the French sectors, we have divided the products not only by zones, but by classes: we know where to find, for example, not only the objects of the furniture, but also each category of objects that make up the whole of the furniture.
This division, as simple as it is ingenious in its classification, has not been rigorously followed by the& foreign exhibitors, either because they did not understand the method well, or because they lacked the time - and the understanding - to apply it; in such a way that in their installations the products of one class are jumbled up with the products of another class.
From this I conclude that France should be given the grand prize of exhibitions, and moreover that of order in the installations.
This will not prevent some critics from calling the Palais du Champ de Mars a gasometer, and from persuading themselves that they have found there a brand new joke, full of tact and truth.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée