The Morris Column: 5 Unusual Facts About This Street Furniture

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the Morris columns that display posters of shows and movies in many French cities? For all those who are intrigued by this piece of street furniture and its history, here are 5 unusual facts about the Morris column.

1- They were not invented in Paris but in Berlin

In the collective imagination, Morris columns are part of the Parisian landscape, along with Wallace fountains and Hector Guimard's subway entrances.

And yet, the Morris column as we know it today was not born in Paris but in Berlin! This is the first of 5 unusual facts about this piece of street furniture.

It appeared in the German capital in 1854 in order to inform the public about shows and to fight against illegal posting.

2- They succeeded a model that was also used as a urinal

As early as 1839, the prefect of the Seine had authorized the installation of Moorish columns in Paris. One of the 5 unusual facts about them is that the municipal signage was placed on a wooden panel leaning against the outside... of public urinals!

But this model, which served both as an advertisement display and as a urinal, was heavily criticized for its dual function.

So it gradually gave way to the German model all in height and topped by a small dome, that is to say the Morris column as we still come across it today in our streets.

Each of these advertising columns can hold 4m² of posters to promote the cultural offer of Paris.

3- They bear the name of a printer

Contrary to what one might think, the Morris column is not named after its inventor.

If these poster columns from Germany are known by this name in France, it is because the first advertising concession was awarded in 1868 to the printer Gabriel Morris, specialized, among other things, in the promotion of Parisian shows.

Unusually, the printer's name has stood the test of time. It is still used today to designate these billboards, more than 150 years later!

4- They are part of the Parisian heritage

With their cylindrical green cast iron silhouette, topped with a roof and canopy that protects the posters from the rain, the Morris columns have become a symbol of the city of Paris.

In the minds of tourists, these pieces of street furniture are emblematic of the French capital, along with Wallace fountains and Davioud benches.

The Morris column was at the center of a controversy in 2006, when the mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë decided to destroy more than 200 examples and reduce their number to 550 columns in order to de-clutter the public space.

This support dedicated to the performing arts has its defenders, lovers of heritage who dread seeing Morris columns disappear in favor of more profitable or modern advertising supports, such as the metallic gray Wilmotte columns.

5- You can see them elsewhere in the world

Despite their special place in the hearts of Parisians and in the symbols associated with the city of Paris, Morris columns have spread far beyond the capital.

They can be seen in most major French cities (such as Marseille, Lyon and Nice) and abroad, particularly in Europe and North America.

The Morris column is common in Germany, where it is called Litfaßsäule (Litfaß column) after its inventor, Berlin's Ernst Litfaß. It has also taken up residence across the Atlantic, particularly in the streets of San Francisco!

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Otourly
Tags: Paris, Morris, Morris column, Street furniture, French, Berlin, capital, printer, inventor, Germany, advertising, CITY, heritage, urinal, Wallace fountains, prefect, Rain, symbol, landscape, Davioud, Mayor, Bertrand, public space, performing arts, Marseille, lyon, Nice, Europe, Atlantic, canopy, silhouette, Seine, Moorish, urinals, function, German model, dome, German, Subway, Hector Guimard, France, concession, dual, iron, San Francisco,
In French: La colonne Morris : 5 faits insolites sur ce mobilier urbain
En español: La columna Morris: 5 curiosidades sobre este mobiliario urbano
In italiano: La colonna Morris: 5 fatti insoliti su questo arredo urbano
Auf Deutsch: Die Morris-Säule: 5 ungewöhnliche Fakten über dieses Stadtmobiliar
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