France and the United States have a long common history, as old as the United States itself. And Paris has a habit of naming things after its American friends which, if you think about it, requires quite a bit of effort in a city that is more than a thousand years old and which named most of its streets and squares long ago. But some of the illustrious people of bygone days do not remain illustrious forever, and places with names like "farm street" or "old road to Orléans" generally will give up their names without protest. And there is always room for another statue or two.
So, I would like to show how France has honoured its oldest ally.
George Washington has a street that starts at the Champs Elysées.
And of course the moment you have a street name, some commerces will use it in their own name.
Rue Lincoln also starts at the Champs Elysées.
The most famous U.S. presidential street in the area, though, is this one.
That's because it is also the name of the most luxurious metro station in the city.
Yet another president is honoured farther down the Champs Elysées -- but not as president this time.
The avenue runs along the side of the Grand Palais and is noted for its police station.
George Washington has two statues in Paris. The bigger one is on Place d'Iéna.
The other statue is at Place des Etats-Unis, a quite large square.
He shares the honour with his French buddy La Fayette this time.
Myron T. Herrick was the governor of Ohio from 1904 to 1906, but more importantly, he was the American ambassador to France from 1912 to 1914 and then again from 1921 to 1929. He died sitting at his ambassadorial desk in Paris.
Horace Wells, who died at age 33, was a dentist who pioneered the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in dentistry. He left the United States in disgrace after his first public demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 1845. The dosage was wrong, and the patient screamed in agony. But living in Paris, he perfected the technique in 1847 and learned all about ether as well. Just imagine how important this was, with all dentistry done with no anesthesia prior to that time. Yikes.
He came to a bad end though, as do most doctors who experiment too many new drugs on themselves. He became addicted to chloroform and during a psychotic episode, he threw sulfuric acid on two prostitutes. He was thrown in prison, but once the chloroform wore off, he asked to be taken to his home to pick up his shaving kit. Thanks to the wonders of chloroform, he had no trouble committing suicide with his razor...
In the same part of Paris, another president is honoured.
And then there is the most recent American president to be honoured, along the Seine.
For years, I imagined that this place was where Barbie goes to find one night stands -- never made the Kennedy connection!
The address "116 avenue du Président Kennedy" is perhaps the most famous street address in France that most people can say without even thinking -- sort of like "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" in the United States or "10 Downing Street" across the world. It is the address of the Radio France building, which also used to house the government television channels as well, and so anybody who grew up watching television in France or listening to one of the many public radio stations heard the address several times a day -- to get transcripts, apply for game shows, make comments, try to get giveaways, ask for photos of their favourite personalities, etc... Just about nobody can give the address of the Elysée presidential palace, though -- at best, they know the name of the street, same as for the main government ministries, which are often referred to by the street where they are located -- "Quai d'Orsay" for example, for the ministry of Foreign Affairs -- but never by the street number. But 116 avenue du Président Kennedy is special -- France's first major window on the world.
Several of those names were acquired at the end of WW11 when roads were renamed in honour of Allied leaders. Eisenhower of course was in overall charge of the invasion of France in 1944, which liberated it.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
That was great Kerouac - very interesting indeed! I recognize one place in particular.....Place des Etats-Unis. I left a friend sitting on a bench there as she felt tired, while I carried on to try and find my way to the Pont de l'Alma to go and see where Princess Diana was so tragically killed. It was about 10 days after the accident. I got lost - had no map, but with some luck found my way back there. I was so relieved that I've never forgotten Place des Etats Unis!
What a great theme to bring all these interesting details of Paris together.
I never understood the modern American antipathy to France-- the 'freedom fries', surrender monkeys rhetoric that was thick in the air when France (only mildly) opposed jumping into the second gulf war. And particularly now in hindsight when it has become clear the French were right all along in opposing it! France 1, GWB and his neo-con cabal 0.
It is ludicrous. Almost no French people hate the United States; they may well oppose certain policies (as many people in the US and other countries do).
Great thread, Jack. Wouldn't rue de New-York refer more to the city than the state? I don't think the average Frenchperson thinks much about Buffalo, Rochester or Binghamton. NYC is an icon, as is Paris. And Buffalo Grill would pertain to the North American Great Plains ruminant, not the Western New York city on the Canadian border.
I liked the West African and Maghrebi Jewish takes on "Manhattan".
I could be snarky and say French children and teens get better access to dental care than their counterparts in the US, but strangely, our otherwise excellent national health system doesn't cover teeth either.
Isn't Rosa Parks a WONDERFUL person to name public transport stations for!?! Inspired choice.
Okay, just a bit more to wrap this up. One thing that I have noticed since I moved to Paris is that the number of "American named" businesses has gone down. There are still plenty, but the situation has changed. The United States used to represent all that was modern and efficient and desirable, and so lots more places had "American" names. When I arrived, there was a cinema called the New Yorker and another one called the Brooklyn. Those days are long gone. The United States still has plenty of appeal to the French, but I would say that it is now much more diluted in the rest of the world -- the countries surrounding France now seem just as modern (if not more) than the United States, plus there are Japan, China, Australia, etc., which have also provided models that appeal to a lot of people. Restaurants are the most apt to indicate the passing fads, because they change very quickly. Leaving Asia aside (because it is a whole different attraction), I have seen the restaurant names change over the years as travel became easier and horizons were expanded. Greek restaurants became Tex-Mex restaurants and then they became Cuban restaurants and now they are becoming Brazilian restaurants...
But don't worry, the "American" name on restaurants still has plenty of appeal. This first place is wildly popular with people who find the "continental" breakfast sorely lacking and start craving pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc. What's funny is that a lot of the tourists who flock here are the same ones who avoid menus in English like poison and don't even want to go to an Italian restaurant in Paris, becaue "we want French food." When the breakfast contradiction is pointed out to them, their defense is "most of the people in there are French!" Whatever... I say you can eat whatever you want, anywhere in the world as long as it is available.
Another new popular place is this one.
But that's not all.
And then there is this perplexing place.
The problem is, when you turn the corner of the building, you suddenly realise that you are in the Japanese part of Paris.
So, what else do the Americans do that the French think is best?
Super thread choice. I never realized how many streets have been named after Americans. I have heard and read about the restaurant, Breakfast in America, and was totally surprised at the size of the restaurant. I had always thought it was a really large place.
I agree with Lagatta that New York means the city, not the state. For most French people, the States means NYC and California, with a huge gap in the middle, except for a few places like Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Yes, Germany lost most of its street names in Paris starting in 1914. Also, the Berlin metro station became Liège and the Kaiser Wilhelm station became Eglise d'Auteuil, just to mention two examples. However, streets named after German writers, philosophers and scientists were retained.
During my visits to Paris, I thought names such as Ave Franklin D Roosevelt were just co-incidental. Wow, didn't know of so many roads and squares named after American icons. Amazing post, Kerouac, your photos have always been superb (I've read your posts via TT).
anshjain, there are also a lot of Churchills and other prominent allies among streets, avenues, métro stations etc renamed after the war.
We think of métro Stalingrad - if it seems odd that it kept its name after the extent of the Soviet dictator's crimes, it is because it was named for the battle that was a turning point in the Second World War, and the heroism of that city's citizenship, not for the mass-murdering dictator. The city was renamed Volgograd under Krushchev's "destalinisation".
What a great thread idea! I especially love the shout-outs to NYC. When I was there, I really wanted to look for of the Ave du New York and the mini-Statue of Liberty and take pictures, but I didn't get around to it. Next time.