Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pompe La Samaritaine

Painting of La Samaritaine water pump on the Pont Neuf.
Artist Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet (1715-1793)

This pump house, decorated with a gilded bas-relief depicting the Samaritan giving Jesus a drink of water, was topped by a clock tower with a chime of 23 bells that tolled the hours. This hydraulic water pump was in operation from 1609 to 1813 at the north end of the Pont Neuf. Water from the Seine was pumped into a huge reservoir nearby in an attempt to alleviate the chronic deficiency of public water supplies in Paris.

The huge Art-Deco designed Samaritaine department store, closed since 2005 for fire code violations (no reopening date announced as yet), took its name from this water pump, which was located just yards away from the store location. This sketch shows the Pont Neuf bridge with the department store at the far (north) end.

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