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English Quarter

English Quarter à l'exposition de Expo Paris 1867

The English quarter is that part of the Champ de Mars comprised, within its outer limits, between the Quai d'Orsay on the right as you enter through the Porte d'Iéna, and the Avenue Suffren forming an angle perpendicular to the Seine. The door at the corner is called the Porte de Billancourt. The base of the triangle would be formed by going through the interior of the Champ de Mars from the Porte d'Iéna to the Porte Suffren. We would thus have the whole space in which the English quarter is enclosed.

This is the most brilliant and monumental part of the whole Exhibition Park.

Mr. Ciceri, who gave us the panoramic view of the other three quarters, has particularly distinguished himself in the view of the English quarter. It is as clear and bright as a diorama. You can walk through his drawing without any risk of error. Here is the unfinished electric lighthouse of England dominating the whole. Around this exclamation point are on one side the English cottage facing the central avenue, opposite the imperial pavilion on the other side of the avenue. On the other side is the Indian temple used as a stable for the engines of the power generator. Continuing the central avenue and taking the opposite view to M. Ciceri's perspective, we find the English military exhibition with its artillery park and camp, and closer to the Porte d'Iéna the French electric lighthouses.

Arrived there, we are in the centre of a roundabout where are gathered various decorative specimens of marble and bronze, around a monumental fountain whose jet of water, at the slightest wind, wets all the surroundings and makes uninhabitable the benches on which the tired visitor seeks a moment of rest. Next to the fountain is the admirable Petin and Gaudet exhibition, which we will report on in a special study.

Turning from there to the Palais, we are in the perspective of M. Ciceri's drawing and in its orientation. Let us follow the alley parallel to the Quai d'Orsay, starting from the Porte d'Iéna and ending at the Porte Billancourt.

To the left of the alley, in this direction, behind the French electric lighthouses, we see the Mexican temple, and further on the Romanian church and the American biscuit factory. Continuing down the alley are the evangelical missions; and opposite, to the right of the alley, the International Circle with its two annexes of shops.

Let's stop for a moment in front of the International Circle, whose imposing mass dominates all the surroundings. It was a beautiful project that failed in the face of public indifference and ignorance. It had been dreamed of founding an international goods exchange there, where the exhibitors would have found the information and the connections they naturally had to aspire to. Everything was arranged for this purpose, information offices, interpreters, telegraph and post office. A huge room, supported by columns, was arranged on the ground floor where subscribers would have met to communicate news or to negotiate their transactions. On the first floor, a richly decorated room of the same size was to serve as a dining room and a ballroom and concert hall. On both sides of the room, there were lounges for reading, correspondence, etc.

Either the purpose of the International Circle was not well understood by the public, due to lack of publicity, or the establishment was ready too late, all the plans that had motivated this creation successively failed. The lower hall had to be given over to the Strauss concerts, which prevented the enterprise from collapsing altogether, and the upper hall to tables d'hôte and banquets. This is where the group banquets took place, especially the one for the 10th group, whose trophies have remained as a permanent decoration.

Today, the Cercle International has become, by decree, the Champ de Mars auction hotel. If the Exhibition is maintained, this auction office may become profitable for the International Circle, especially as its buildings are designed to last fifteen years, as His Majesty the Emperor was able to convince himself during the visit he paid to the establishment.
Next to the Circle is the Conference Room, another wreck. I had dreamed of conferences where the greatest illustrations of Europe would come in turn to show themselves to the respectful public, on the direct invitation of the Imperial Commission. I had myself proposed something along these lines: but my plan did not prevail, which I regret much more for the sake of the public than for myself.

Between the Conferences and the Circle, you go down to the bank through a tunnel, indicated in M. Ciceri's drawing. There, the hydraulic apparatus of France, the marine machines of England, and, on the Seine, the British pleasure boats are exhibited. Further on, close to the Porte Billancourt, is a beautiful solitary restaurant under an American name.

Let us return to the Champ de Mars alley. Following the Conferences and on the same side of the avenue, on the right, are the Bernier winch, the hydraulic assembly of M. Edoux, the happy inventor of the lift in the Galerie des machines, an artistically arranged exhibition of slates, Theil lime, Portland concrete, and lifting and other appliances.

On the other side of the alley we are opposite the Tunisian café and the resplendent palace of the bey. To the left, in the same clump, are the tents and stables of the Emperor of Morocco.

Following the alley parallel to Avenue Suffren, at the corner of the Porte Billancourt and the grand staircase which separates us from the railway station, shown in the confines of M. Ciceri's panoramic view, are the vast sheds where the machines of England and the United States are exhibited, sheds which extend as far as the Porte Suffren, the limit of the English quarter in this direction.

Opposite the sheds, on the other side of the avenue, are the Chinese house and theatre; further on, the temple of Pharaoh, the Egyptian caravanserai with its population of native craftsmen, the catacombs of Rome, the Pompeian palace, the agricultural annex of the Italian exhibition, and finally the Italian house of earthenware.

We thus arrived at the end of the English quarter, on this side. Retracing our steps by taking the diagonal, we meet the Bosphorus House, the Baths and the Mosque of Brousse, belonging to Turkey. Next to it is the palace of the Viceroy of Egypt with its belvedere decorated with coloured stained glass. Here is the pavilion of the Suez Canal, where the illustrious promoter of the work gave such interesting lectures; further on, the Romanian church, all painted. We are back near the English lighthouse, from which the house of the Indian soldiers separates us.

When we have mentioned the American farm and school and the Louisiana mobile home, we shall have completed a nearly complete recapitulation. Once again, we cannot compete in precision and clarity with Mr. Ciceri's drawing, which will become a precious document when the Exhibition disappears from the Champ de Mars.

Our regular readers will easily recognise themselves through the arid nomenclature we have just given. For there is not a single monument, among those we have just mentioned, that has not been the subject of a complete study on our part. We could not insist more on the details without risking repeating ourselves.

Moreover, whatever point of the Park or the Palace one wishes to study, one will soon realise that we have provided sufficient elements for this study in our previous issues.

This is enough to bear witness that we have conscientiously fulfilled the vast task we had set ourselves, and whose constant benevolence of our readers has made the accomplishment less difficult.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée