Street Furniture

Urinal, Jennings System, plateau de l’Ambigu, 1876

Hôtel de la Marine, 1864 – 1870
albumen print from collodion negative
National Gallery of Art, Diana and Mallory Walker Fund

Architect Gabriel Davioud, one of Haussmann’s chief collaborators, was responsible for the design and installation of the “street furniture” that appeared throughout the city starting in the 1860s. From gas lamps, benches, and decorative ironwork grilles to fountains and urinals, these elegantly designed, industrially fabricated public amenities were meant simultaneously to embellish the city and improve its functionality and hygiene.

Davioud selected Marville to document the design and placement of many of these amenities, including a remarkable series recording more than 90 different gas lamps throughout Paris. Intended to celebrate the city’s great advancement in public works, these photographs reveal Marville’s unerring sense of light and space and affirm his total mastery of the medium.