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The site of the 1900 World Exposition was expanded and partially reconstructed for the 1937 World Exposition. It again encompassed the Trocadero environs with the adjacent Champs de Mars, stretching along the banks of the River Seine to the Esplanade des Invalides and the Grand Palais.

The World Exposition was given a new face by demolishing the old Trocadero building and erecting the Palais de Chaillot in its place. There was also a new building along the Seine to the west of the Eiffel Tower and the Ile des Cygnes, which was to be the location of the colonial exhibition.

Peace Column

The extensiveness of the site with its collection of highly varied buildings - which also had to be integrated within the cityscape - deviated from the old idea of a sharply defined World Exposition area bearing the clear hallmarks of urban planning.

The arrangement of some groups of buildings however - such as the confrontation between the Soviet and German Pavilions on the banks of the Seine - symbolised the heightening political tensions in the run up to the Second World War.

Unlike the 19th century Paris World Expositions, which all featured major exhibition halls where ordered displays set out section by section of classified exhibits ensured transparency - not to mention a certain level of monotony - the 1937 EXPO, in addition to the foreign pavilions, only had theme buildings (from landscape gardening, to advertising and transport) which were designed to reflect the nature of the exhibits and were easier to integrate within the extensive and widely-fragmented site. The temporary pavilions with their deliberate and coordinated multicoloured appearance were designed to promote a new style of architecture. Although most of the buildings were intended for demolition after the end of the exposition, the planners were keen to avoid the drawbacks of the 1900 EXPO by creating buildings which did not give the impression of being mere theatrical backdrops. Their function as temporary exhibition halls was therefore reflected in the light steel-glass structures - dispensing with the old-style plaster or papier-mâché facades.

A Peace Column was erected in front of the main entrance on the northern square of the Trocadero as a symbol of the peaceful alliance of nations. The southern square and the bank of the Seine opposite were reserved for foreign pavilions. The major theme pavilions and other foreign pavilions lay behind the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars.

The buildings housing the French regional exhibits were to the west of the Eiffel Tower, and the handicrafts, sciences and gardening pavilions to the east.

Another building which became permanent was the Museum of Modern Art on the northern bank of the Seine. The large area in front of the Dôme des Invalides housed a large funfair with entertainments and restaurants. The Palais de la Découverte was erected within the Grand Palais and gave a magical and informative introduction into modern natural sciences and technology.

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The Paris World Exposition 1937
A World Exposition in the heart of a major city
Year: 1937City: ParisCountry: France
Duration: 25th May - 25th November 1937



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