At the turn of the twentieth century, Parisians believed they lived in the greatest city in the world.
But Paris came to a halt in January 1910 when the river that provided much of the city’s life quickly became an instrument of destruction. Following weeks of torrential rainfall, the Seine overflowed its banks flooding thousands of homes and sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for safety and higher ground.
This most modern of cities seemed to have lost its battle with the elements.
But in the midst of the disaster, despite decades of political division, scandal, and deep tensions between social classes, Parisians rallied to help one another and rebuild. Leaders and people answered the call to action in the city’s hour of need. This newfound ability to work together proved crucial just four years later when France was plunged into the depths of World War I. What emerged from the waters, and from the war, was the Paris we know today.