Paris was named the City of Light (Ville lumière) at the beginning of the nineteenth century after becoming the first city in Europe to use gas lighting to illuminate its streets. Progress came along with technological advances, such as the cinema, electric light for outdoors and indoors, steel manufacturing, and new means of transportation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the modernization of public spaces with the electric lighting of streets and monuments quickly spread to leisure spaces. In the 1930s, the use of neon light became widespread as it was employed to advertise iconic places of Parisian nightlife, such as café-theaters and cinemas. This technology was at its peak during the International Exhibition of Art and Technology in Modern Life in 1937, when the Eiffel Tower, a symbol of modernity, was spectacularly illuminated.
These advances had a great impact on the way of living and the new tendencies in art at the beginning of the twentieth century.
1937 World’s Fair, Paris. Illuminated Eiffel Tower
© Gaston Paris / Roger-Viollet