The Paris Exposition was the talk of the world in 1889. A grand celebration in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution, the stunning variety of things to see and hear caused revolutions in many fields of human endeavor once the Fair closed. Juliette Low spent one week at a hotel near the Champs de Mars and enjoyed every moment of her World’s Fair adventures.
From May through October, over 30 million visitors came to goggle at great art, wondrous machinery, pavilions displaying cultures and peoples from foreign countries, industrial trade exhibitions and examples of agricultural accomplishments. They listened to the opera that Jules Massenet wrote for the occasion. They watched Javanese dancers and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. They ate food from around the world. They rode the “hydraulic railway” from one part of the massive grounds to another as they encountered demonstrations of electric light, the telephone, moving pictures, and the first gas-powered horseless carriage.
Daisy Low remarked upon the “villages with the inhabitants and trades of China, Japan, Java, Borneo,” and other nations. Like other guests from Europe and America, she was fascinated by the exotic. She thought the “little Japanese ladies” danced in a “most seductive manner.” Her artist’s eye noticed their “most shapely bodies, very plump and rounded arms and legs and tiny waists and ankles.”
“Of course,” she wrote her mother, “the most wonderful object in the Exposition is the Eiffel Tower.” She stood for two hours in line before ascending to “the top in elevators wh. look like a crab.” She was scared to go up—but, always plucky, she did it. She wrote that it “took from 3 till 6:30 to make the ascent and descent.” The drop down, she confessed, was the most terrifying part.
Daisy was in good company as she marveled at the sites and sounds and smells. Claude Debussy, James MacNeil Whistler, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh, and the Prince of Wales—among many famous people—attended the Fair. Whether she saw them, I don’t know. But her enthusiasm for the spectacle is certainly clear from the rave reviews she sent home.
|The Clothing Pavilion|