A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 07, 2019
City of Light or Ville Lumière (Paris, France nickname)

The city of Paris, France is known as “The City of Light” (La Ville Lumière), and many other cities have also used this nickname. It’s often said, as stated in Wikipedia, that the nickname comes from both the leading role that Paris played in the Age of Enlightenment and because Paris was one of the first large European cities to use gas street lighting.

French poet and novelist Victor Hugo (1802-1885) wrote in the novel Les Misérables (1862):

“For nothing must be flattered, not even a great people; where there is everything there is also ignominy by the side of sublimity; and, if Paris contains Athens, the city of light, Tyre, the city of might, Sparta, the city of virtue, Nineveh, the city of marvels, it also contains Lutetia, the city of mud.”

Athens, Greece, was a “city of light” (meaning “enlightenment").

The play The Drama of Kings (1871) by Robert Williams Buchanan contained this line spoken by Napoleon:

“But what of Paris? What of the city of light? How doth it bear the terror and the agony?”

The Paris nickname of “City of Light” (La Ville Lumière) was popularized from this passage in Victor Hugo’s Actes et paroles: Pendant l’exil, 1852-1870 (1875):

“Paris is the frontier of the future, the visible frontier of the unknown, all the quantity of To-morrow which may be visible in To-day. Whoso seeks for Progress with his eyes shall behold Paris. There are black cities; Paris is the City of Light.”

it is sometimes claimed (see Lapham’s Quarterly in 2017 and Culture Trip in 2019) that the nickname “City of Light” (La Ville Lumière) is from 1667, when King Louis XIV made Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie the Lieutenant General of Police, and lanterns made the Paris brighter and safer. However, there is no printed evidence that the term “La Ville Lumière” was used before the 1800s.

Other cities have also called themselved the “City of Light.” Buffalo, New York, has been called the “City of Light” because of its famous role in the illumination of its 1901 Pan-American Exposition.


Wikipedia: Paris
Paris (French pronunciation: ​[paʁi]) is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres (41 square miles) and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019.  Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe’s major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €681 billion (US$850 billion) in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of the GDP of France, and was the 5th largest region by GDP in the world.
(...)
Paris is often referred to as the City of Light (La Ville Lumière), both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment and more literally because Paris was one of the first large European cities to use gas street lighting on a grand scale on its boulevards and monuments. Gas lights were installed on the Place du Carousel, Rue de Rivoli and Place Vendome in 1829. By 1857, the Grand boulevards were lit. By the 1860s, the boulevards and streets of Paris were illuminated by 56,000 gas lamps.

Wikipedia: Victor Hugo
Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo]; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (French: Notre-Dame de Paris), 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections, such as Les Contemplations (The Contemplations) and La Légende des siècles (The Legend of the Ages).
(...)
Les Misérables (1862)
(...)
Actes et paroles – Pendant l’exil (1875), (Deeds and Words)

Classic Bookshelf
Les Miserables
by Victor Hugo
previous: BOOK SECOND. - THE INTESTINE OF THE LEVIATHAN
CHAPTER I
THE LAND IMPOVERISHED BY THE SEA
(...)
For nothing must be flattered, not even a great people; where there is everything there is also ignominy by the side of sublimity; and, if Paris contains Athens, the city of light, Tyre, the city of might, Sparta, the city of virtue, Nineveh, the city of marvels, it also contains Lutetia, the city of mud.

Google Books
The Drama of Kings
By Robert Williams Buchanan
London, UK: Strahan & Co., Publishers
1871
Pg. 222:
NAPOLEON.
(...)
But what of Paris? What of the city of light? How doth it bear the terror and the agony?

Google Books
Actes et paroles: Pendant l’exil, 1852-1870
By Victor Hugo
Paris, France: Michel Lévy Frères
1875
Pg. XLVI
Il y a des villes noires; Paris est la ville de lumière.

Google Books
4 March 1876, Appletons’ Journal of Literature, Science and Art, “Books and Authors,” pg. 315, cols. 1-2:.
THE writer of an article in a recent Saturday Review on Victor Hugo’s “Pendant l’Exil” amuses himself with “taking off” M. Hugo’s style. Here is a paragraph: “There are some wonderful pages about Paris toward the close of the introductory chapter. Paris, he says, is the frontier of the future, the visible frontier of the unknown, all the quantity of To-morrow which may be visible in To-day. Whoso seeks for progress with his eyes shall behold Paris. There are black cities; Paris is the City of Light. It is impossible to get out of Paris; for every living man, though he knoweth it not, hath Paris in the depths of his being. The four hurricanes, the winds, the tempests, the squalls, cannot carry away the sister-towers, cannot disperse the arch of triumph, the Gothic belfry of tocsins, and the high colonnade which is wound about the sovereign dome; and behind the last distances of the abyss, above the shattering of ships and foams, in the midst of the rays, of the storm-clouds, and the gusts, may be seen in the dim distance of the mists the immense phantom of the city which never moves. Paris is an august apparition. Paris has ubiquity. Paris is an idea as much as a city. Paris may be breathed. It is a gleam below the horizon piercing the thick shades. The sublime peace of the starry heaven sufficeth not to dissolve in the depths of the mind this grand figure of the supreme city. her women are goddesses; her children are heroes; her revolutions begin in wrath and end in masterpieces; she has the sacred omnipotence of a whirlwind of intelligences. All this, and more, is present in the soul of the absent—yea, even for the man plunged in shadow who passes his nights in contemplation before the eternal serenity, and hath in his soul the profound stupor of the stars.”

18 March 1876, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (New York, NY), pg. 5, col. 3:
Victor Hugo on Paris
FROM English points of view, it is not surprising that Victor Hugo’s description of the French metropolis seems to be a rhapsody. He says: “Paris is the frontier of the future, the visible frontier of the unknown, all the quantity of To-morrow which may be visible in To-day. Whoso seeks for Progress with his eyes shall behold Paris. There are black cities; Paris is the City of Light. It is impossible to get out of Paris; for every living man, whether he knoweth or not, hath Paris in the depths of his being. The four hurricanes, the winds, the tempests, the squalls, cannot carry away the sister-towers, cannot disperse the arch of triumph, the Gothic belfry of tocsins, and the high colonnade which is wound about the sovereign dome; and behind the last distances of the abyss, above the shattering of ships and foams, in the midst of the rays, of the storm-clouds, and the gusts, may be seen in the dim distance of the mists the immense phantom of the city which never moves. Paris is an august apparition. Paris has ubiquity. Paris is an idea as much as a city. Paris (Col. 4—ed.) may be breathed. It is a gleam below the horizon piercing the thick shades. The sublime peace of the starry heaven sufficeth not to dissolve in the depths of the mind this grand figure of the supreme city. her women are goddesses; her children are heroes; her revolutions begin in wrath and end in masterpieces; she has the sacred omnipotence of a whirlwind of intelligences. All this, and more, is present in the soul of the absent—yea, even for the man plunged in shadow who passes his nights in contemplation before the eternal serenity, and hath in his soul the profound stupor of the stars.”

We feel deeply impressed by the grandeur of all this, for we are quite convinced that it must be very grand, since the author puts together so many things which are generally considered to be sublime. It may be doubted whether any English writer could tune his style up to this pitch. Mr. Ruskin comes nearest it, perhaps, when in wrath against the wickedness of the age; but even Mr. Ruskin, tilting against steam-engines and political economists, is not so fine an example of crazy genius as Victor Hugo.

21 December 1876, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, “General Notes,” pg. 5, col. 1:
The Paris correspondent of The London Standard writes in an amusing way about the importance of British institutions. (...) Another well-known institution has just been added to the many good things which la ville lumière—to use Victor Hugo’s modest appellation of Paris—has condescended to import from her foggy and benighted neighbor on the other side of the Channel.

17 February 1877, The Star Guernsey, UK), pg. 4, col. 2:
FRANCE.
(From the Standard Correspondent.)
(...) (Col. 3—ed.)
The Paris of to-day knows not herself again. She has grown old; she has become—Republican and regenerated; and as La Ville Lumière (vide Victor Hugo), must set an example of light to the rest of the world.

2 April 1877, Sheffield and Rotherham (UK) Independent, pg. 3, col. 4: 
VICE AND VITRIOL.
ANOTHER EXTRAORDINARY PARIS TRAGEDY.
Paris, “la ville lumière,” “ la cité humaine,” according to Victor Hugo (writes a correspondent of the Standard), continues to distinguish itself in a way very different from what the poet would wish the world to believe.

9 April 1877, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, pg. 7, col. 2:
A SPEECH BY VICTOR HUGO.
The meeting in Paris on Sunday, March 26, for the relief of Lyons operatives was addressed by Victor Hugo, who was greeted with great enthusiasm. (...) The following report of Mr. Hugo’s speech is take from The London Standard:
(...)
Lyons was the city of labor, and Paris the city of light (la ville lumière).

OCLC WorldCat record
La Ville lumière. Marche parisienne, paroles de Louis Martin, musique de Albert Petit.
Author: Albert Petit; Louis Martin
Publisher: Paris : A. Petit, [DL 1898]
Edition/Format: Musical score

OCLC WorldCat record
Paris, city of light
Author: René-Jacques.
Publisher: Munich : Wilhelm Andermann Verlag, [©1955]
Series: Panorama-Books.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
A new kind of love can the city of light become the city of love?
Author: Melville Shavelson; Llenroc Productions.; Paramount Pictures Corporation (1914-1927)
Publisher: Washington D.C. (Estados Unidos) : Paramount Pictures, 1963.
Series: Widescreen Collection

OCLC WorldCat record
Paris by night. La ville lumière.
Author: René-Jacques.; Jean Prasteau
Publisher: [Munich], [W. Andermann]; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. [1964]
Series: Panorama-books.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Paris : city of light
Author: Mimmo Jodice
Publisher: [Paris] : Maison européenne de la photographie ; New York, NY : Aperture, ©1998.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

,a href="https://thetravelcrew.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/why-paris-is-called-the-city-of-light-paris-la-ville-lumiere/">thetravelcrew
Why Paris is called the city of light. “Paris: La Ville-Lumière”
Posted on May 27, 2012 by cococantrelle
Paris was nicknamed the “City of Light” (not City of Lights) originally because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. In 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps. It was the first city in Europe to do so, and so earned the nickname “La Ville–Lumière” or The City of Light.

Culture Trip
How Paris Got its Nickname, ‘The City of Lights’
JADE CUTTLE @JADECUTTLE
UPDATED: 2 APRIL 2019
(...)
On March 15, 1667, Louis XIV made Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie the Lieutenant General of Police, entrusting him with the task of making Paris more safe. In addition to quadrupling the number of policemen in the city, one of the measures was to install more lighting. Lanterns were placed on almost every main street and residents were asked to light their windows with candles and oil lamps. The idea was to prevent lawbreakers from dodging the police or hiding in dark alleys, therefore reducing the crime rate. From here on, the city gained the nickname La Ville-Lumière (‘The City of Lights’).

At the time, Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt street lighting, but the nickname really gained the most traction during the Age of Enlightenment that followed.

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesCity of Light or Ville Lumière (Paris, France nickname) • Tuesday, May 07, 2019 • Permalink