Quai de la Tournelle, Paris, 2000
British, Canadian, 1942
gelatin silver print
76.3 x 83.9 cm; image: 48.4 x 58.3 cm
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (no. 2003.17)
© Geoffrey James
Visible in the background of James’ photograph are the Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame de Paris. This island in the Seine had been the first settlement of the Celtic Parisii tribe, from whom the modern city takes its name. The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and completed in the fourteenth century, was once the site of a Roman temple to Jupiter. In 1768, geographers decided that all distances in Paris should be measured in relation to Notre-Dame. Connecting the Île de la Cité to the Quai de la Tournelle is the Pont de l’Archevêché, the city’s narrowest bridge. The wharf was paved in the mid sixteenth century by order of the Bureau de la Ville and named two hundred years later for the medieval tower, La Tournelle, which once defended Paris from entry via the river.