Gare du Nord, 18 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris, France

From Wikipedia:

“The Gare du Nord, officially Paris-Nord, is one of the seven large mainline railway station termini in Paris, France. The station accommodates the trains that run between the capital and northern France via the Paris–Lille railway, as well as to international destinations in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Located in the northern part of Paris near the Gare de l’Est in the 10th arrondissement, the Gare du Nord offers connections with several urban transport lines, including Paris Métro,

RER and buses. The current Gare du Nord was designed by French architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff, while the original complex was constructed between 1861 and 1864 on behalf of the Chemin de Fer du Nord company. The station replaced an earlier and much smaller terminal sharing the same name, which was operational between 1846 and 1860. The station building was partially demolished in 1860 to provide space for the current station; the original station’s façade was removed and transferred to Lille station (now Lille-Flandres).

The chairman of the Chemin de Fer du Nord railway company, James Mayer de Rothschild, chose the French architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff to design the current station. Construction of the new complex was carried out between May 1861 to December 1865; the new station actually opened for service while still under construction during 1864. The façade was designed around a triumphal arch and used many slabs of stone. The building has the usual U-shape of a terminus station. The main support beam is made out of cast iron. The support pillars inside the station were made at Alston & Gourley’s ironworks in Glasgow in the United Kingdom, the only country with a foundry large enough for the task.

The sculptural display represents the principal cities served by the company. Eight of the nine most majestic statues, crowning the building along the cornice line, illustrate destinations outside France, with the ninth figure of Paris in the centre. Fourteen more modest statues representing northern European cities are lower on the façade. The sculptors represented are:

London and Vienna by Jean-Louis Jaley
Brussels and Warsaw by François Jouffroy
Amsterdam by Charles Gumery
Frankfurt by Gabriel Thomas
Berlin by Jean-Joseph Perraud
Cologne by Mathurin Moreau
Paris, Boulogne and Compiegne by Pierre-Jules Cavelier…

From l. to r. sculptures representing: Beauvais, Lille, Amiens, Rouen, Arras, and Laon.

…Arras and Laon by Théodore-Charles Gruyère
Lille and Beauvais by Charles-François Lebœuf
Valenciennes and Calais by Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire
Rouen and Amiens by Eugène-Louis Lequesne
Douai and Dunkirk by Gustave Crauck
Cambrai and Saint-Quentin by Auguste Ottin

It was originally planned that a monumental avenue would be constructed leading up to the station’s façade, cutting through the old street layout. Between 1838 and 1859, around a dozen separate proposals to redevelop the streets around Gare du Nord were tabled. However, no such redevelopment ever happened despite the extensive rebuilding of Paris headed by the Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann; the Gare du Nord’s absence from Haussmann’s work has been referred to as “exhibiting arbitrariness and inconsistency”. According to the railway historian Micheline Nilsen, the decision not to proceed with the redevelopment has been typically attributed to Haussmann and his personal displeasure that the city would have to bear such great expense on behalf of the Gare du Nord, and that Haussmann’s overall attitude led to a pronounced understatement of the railways. Whatever the reason, the station has persistently suffered problems with a lack of space and poor access.”

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