Visiting 49, Avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, France: remembering James Gordon Bennett Jr., founder of the Paris Herald, 1887

Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Plaque affixed to No. 49, avenue de l'Opéra, Paris 2nd 'arrondissement'
Plaque affixed to No. 49, avenue de l'Opéra, Paris 2nd 'arrondissement' | Source
James Gordon Bennett, Jr.
James Gordon Bennett, Jr. | Source
Avenue de l'Opéra, Paris
Avenue de l'Opéra, Paris | Source
Avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, circa 1900
Avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, circa 1900 | Source
Allies' Day, May 1917, by Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Allies' Day, May 1917, by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) | Source
Map location of Paris, France
Map location of Paris, France | Source

Birth of part of the international communications world

The Paris Herald, forerunner of the International Herald Tribune, was founded at 49, avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, France, in 1887 by New York City-born James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (1841-1918). A plaque affixed to the building witnesses to this historic event.

I have for many years believed that for its sheer quality the International Herald Tribune is among the finest of English language newspapers in the world, and thus when in Paris I was thus very interested to come across the plaque commemorating the founding of its forerunner, the Paris Herald.

James Gordon Bennett, Jr. thus had the vision for and English-language daily in the world's leading, French-speaking city (1). Already the publisher of the New York Herald, he himself settled permanently in Paris, and before long was managing the affairs of the New York Herald from Paris by telegraph (no; there is nothing particularly new about the basic idea of doing office work remotely by computer!)

Bennett died in 1918, when World War One which brought the United States, as one of the Allied nations, actively into military and political involvement in European affairs, was still in progress. Today it is hard to think of the plethora of US- European links (business, political, social, cultural) without the witness of the existence of what is now known as the International Herald Tribune. After Bennett's death, the New York Herald merged in 1924 with the New York Tribune, and the Paris Herald became known as the Paris Herald Tribune — from 1967, the International Herald Tribune.

Avenue de l'Opéra is one of Paris's great thoroughfares and, as its name suggests, it culminates at the massive Paris Opera building. Its physical appearance has hardly changed in over 100 years.

But there, at avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, on October 4, 1887, part of the modern communications world — part of globalization, if you will — was being born, arguably prefiguring also the eventual, internet-driven spread of English in world affairs.

January 10, 2013

Notes

(1) James Gordon Bennett Jr. was also a patron of many activities and causes, including yachting, polar and African exploration, and sailing: a number of trophies are named for him. He also had interests in the Transatlantic cable industry. He was married to Maud Potter de Reuter, widow of George de Reuter, son of news agency founder Julius Paul Reuter.

(2) Interestingly, Spanish-speaking Buenos Aires, Argentina, another of the world's great, cosmopolitan metropolises, also has a longstanding English-language daily newspaper, which is likewise known as the Herald.

Also worth seeing

In Paris itself, the amazingly opulent, neo-Baroque Opera building is situated nearby. Among the bewildering wealth of the city's visitor attractions are the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe , the National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale) at the Bourbon Palace (French: Palais Bourbon); place de la Concorde ; the Madeleine church; and many others.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), from where car rental is available; however, visitors to Paris may wish to explore the city via its excellent public transport system. The Métro station for the Paris Opera is called Opéra. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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