Paris celebrates 150 years of iconic newspaper kiosks

Party time, April 17-21. Kiosks will soon sell medicine & food

16 April, 12:47

    One of the old parisian kiosks One of the old parisian kiosks

    (ANSAmed) - PARIS, APRIL 16 - Paris is gearing up for a big birthday bash as the capital's iconic green newspaper kiosks prepare to turn 150. In a celebration running April 17 to 21 the city will mark the historic event with exhibitions, debates, historical portraits and publications. The goal? "Remembering that news-stands play a fundamental role in social life and democracy", explained Jean-Paul Abonnenc, director of Mediakiosk, which has managed the green stands since 2005 and is taking part in 'Paris aime ses kiosques'. "They are emblematic of our urban heritage", he said. 340 of around 400 newsstands are currently active, but as a wider press crisis digs its heels they are at risk of disappearing altogether. In 2004 only 266 kiosks were up and running; a trend that the municipality tackled with free rent. Mediakiosk and a handful of France's largest newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro and L'Express lent their weight to the fight to re-open kiosks. This year the city of Paris approved an exceptional 200,000 euro in aid to the industry. "Free content on the internet and the popularity of tablets has made it impossible to make a living selling newspapers", said Richard, a kiosk owner in the historical eighth arrondissement.

    "Newspaper sales have dropped by about 40% over the last three years: it's unthinkable to try and live from papers alone".

    Because of this, in 2011 the municipality authorized kiosks to sell postcards, souvenirs and sweets. Plans to sell drinks, food, medicines, clothing, umbrellas, and even condoms are also in the pipeline. In May kiosks will start selling 'vintage' stationary, decorated with bygone images of the city and imprinted with the slogan, 'Tell me about Paris'.

    "Working in a newspaper kiosk is at the heart of neighborhood life. It's not just a point of reference for residents and tourists - the kiosk has a social role too", explained James, a kiosk worker in the 14th arrondissment. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 50% of Parisians use the newsstands as a meeting place, while 81% see them as an emblem of the city. A staunch two-thirds of Parisians pledged their loyalty to the kiosks. Kiosks first made an appearance in the city in 1857, springing up along the Grands Boulevards and in the latin quarter of Saint Michel as part of an urban modernization project by Napoleon III and his prefect Haussmann between 1852 and 1870. By 1892, the city was home to 350 kiosks.

    Their characteristic octagonal dome shape, painted in dark green, was tweaked in the 1980s. Now modern kiosks jostle alongside historical ones. (ANSAmed).

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