The World's Largest Public Domain Media Search Engine

[Aerial view of Paris, France, from a balloon, showing the Seine River and the Eiffel Tower at center, and buildings of the Exposition universelle]



Title devised by Library staff.
Forms part of: Tissandier collection.

Hot Air Baloons and Gas Baloons

The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a world's fair held in Paris, France, from 6 May to 31 October 1889. The main symbol of the Fair was the Eiffel Tower, which served as the entrance arch to the Fair. The 1889 fair was held on the Champ de Mars in Paris, which had been the site of the earlier Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867, and would also be the site of the 1900 exposition.

The Tissandier brothers, Gaston Tissandier (1843-1899) and Albert (1839-1906) combine such gifts as balloonist, writer, and illustrator. While Gaston tested the limits of balloon ascension, Albert made drawings of natural phenomena in the upper atmosphere. Gaston studied chemistry and in 1864 became the head of the experimental laboratory of Union Nationales. He was also a teacher at Association Polytechnique. His interest in meteorology led him to take up aviation. His first trip in the air was conducted at Calais in 1868 together with Claude-Jules Dufour, where his balloon drifted out over the sea and was brought back by an air stream of opposite direction in a higher layer of air. In September 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, he managed to leave the besieged Paris by balloon. Gaston Tissandier reported his meteorological observations to the French Academy of Sciences. In 1873 he founded the weekly scientific magazine La Nature, which he edited until 1896, after which it was continued by others. As a team, the brothers developed a design for an electric-powered airship in 1885: In 1883, Tissandier fit a Siemens electric motor to an airship, thus creating the first electric-powered flight. Gaston's most adventurous air trip took place near Paris in April 1875. He and companions Joseph Crocé-Spinelli, journalist, and Théodore Henri Sivel, naval officer, were able to reach in a balloon the unheard-of altitude of 8,600 meters (28,000 feet). Both of his companions died from breathing the thin air. Tissandier survived but became deaf. The Library of Congress Tissandier Collection contains approximately 975 items documenting the early history of aeronautics with an emphasis on balloon flight in France and other European countries. The pictures, created by many different artists, span the years 1773 to 1910. The collection comprises images of flights the Tissandier brothers participated in as well as flights they observed between 1865 and 1885. Gaston Tissandier flew over enemy lines during the Siege of Paris in 1870, and Albert made drawings of several balloons that were used to carry passengers and supplies over enemy lines.

Eiffel Tower was envisioned as a centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a world's fair to celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution. Eiffel acknowledged that inspiration for a tower came from the Latting Observatory built in New York City in 1853. On 30 March 1885, Eiffel presented his tower design to the Société des Ingénieurs Civils. Little progress was made until 1886 when a budget for the exposition was passed and an open competition was held for a centerpiece to the exposition and decided that all the proposals except Eiffel's were either impractical or lacking in details. The proposed tower had been a subject of controversy. Prior to the Eiffel Tower's construction, no structure had ever been constructed to a height of 300 m, and many people believed it was impossible. Some of the protesters changed their minds when the tower was built; others remained unconvinced. The main structural work was completed at the end of March 1889. Eiffel made use of his apartment at the top of the tower to carry out meteorological observations and also used the tower to perform experiments on the action of air resistance on falling bodies. The Eiffel Tower's lighting and sparkling lights are protected by copyright, so professional use of images of the Eiffel Tower at night requires prior authorization and may be subject to a fee.





Liébert, A. (Alphonse), 1826-1913 or 1914, photographer


Champ de Mars Trocadéro48.85837, 2.29448
Google Map of 48.85837009999999, 2.2944813000000295


Library of Congress

Copyright info

No known restrictions on reproduction.

Explore more

exposition universelle de 1889
exhibition buildings
tour eiffel paris france
seine river france
paris france
aerial photographs
albumen prints
montparnasse paris france
seine river
eiffel tower
19th century
lot 7586
tissandier collection
a liebert
a alphonse liebert
aerial view
exposition universelle
ultra high resolution
high resolution
world fair