Paris Bourse about 1892

THE BOURSE (OR EXCHANGE) PARIS — A handsome structure is this edifice where fortunes are so easily made and lost. Surrounded by sixty-six Corinthian columns this building is not unlike the model of a Temple in the Roman Forum. When the traveler has seen the stock exchange of New York or the Board of Trade in Chicago, there is nothing especially new or strange in the transactions of this Paris Bourse. Nevertheless the tumult and incessant uproar which wake the echoes of these walls from twelve o’clock to three are well worth noting, as an indication of the feverish excitement of the “Bulls and Bears,” whose characteristics do not differ materially, whether the arena where their combats take place be in Wall Street or by Lake Michigan, in the vicinity of the Thames or here in Paris. To stand in the gallery of this Bourse and watch the pandemonium below or merely, as one lingers on these steps, to scrutinize the faces of successful or unfortunate speculators as they leave the building, affords an admirable chance to study interesting phases of human experience. This square, or “Place de la Bourse,” is a great point of arrival and departure of the Parisian omnibuses, the demand for which is usually greater than the supply. But no such crowding is possible here as in our public vehicles in America. Each passenger is entitled to a seat, which he secures by applying for a “number,” at the office in the square. The rule of “first come, first served,” is rigidly enforced, and when the seats in the coach are filled, it rolls away, displaying over its door the word “Complet” (full). Who does not recollect the story of the disappointed tourist who exclaimed that the only place in Paris he did not go to was one called “Complet.” “Whenever I see an omnibus going there,” he cried, “ it will never stop for me!” (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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