Disquairesdeparis.fr

Disquaires de Paris traces the history of vinyl record retail in the French capital.

This past Saturday marked a major holiday for fans of music and old-school media—Record Store Day.

Held annually on the third Saturday of April, it's a time for passionate fans of vinyl to spend some time (and money) in indie record stores across the world. Given the bleak trajectory of the modern music industry, the holiday is a bit of a requiem. Nonetheless, people continue to come out in support. Vinyl records carry a sense of history and nostalgia for music connoisseurs, not to mention a unique sound.

For Paris-based record collector Thomas Henry, the history of vinyl is particularly fascinating. For years, he's been amassing 78 rpm records, shellac-based phonographic discs made between 1898 and 1950. He even runs a blog about this era of recorded music. Now, he's putting together a comprehensive map of the record stores that operated in Paris starting at the very end of 19th century and on into the first half of the 20th (the website is in French).

Disquaires de Paris (Record Stores of Paris) is an interactive guide to the city's record shop scene from 1890 through 1960, with archival materials that connect to each pinpointed store.

An ad to buy phonographs from a Parisian music store during the early 20th century. (Collection Hervé David / Disquaires de Paris)

Using public archives, old Parisian phone books, and materials donated by collectors, Henry has uploaded an insignia or sign from every record store featured on the map. In the ad above, dating back to between 1905 and 1907, the French arm of the Edison Phonograph Company pitches their record players, which had been invented by Thomas Edison only two decades earlier.

Another nice function of the map is the option for users to look at changes over time. This offers a full display of how the number of record stores in Paris fluctuated over the course of the 20th century. The 1920s and 1930s were particularly golden years for record retail in Paris, Henry says. The neighborhood of Champs-Élysées, known for its wide avenues and heavy foot traffic, emerged in the early 1900s as a world-class shopping district. Still, by 1926 the area was bereft of any record stores, according to Henry. Three years later, however, six record stores had set up shop, an ode to a new boom of public interest in recorded music.

(Gallica / Disquaires de Paris)

The website remains a work in progress. Henry says that there are likely record stores during this period that he and professional archivists have yet to discover. He plans on later expanding the map to include contemporary record stores, a function that will be useful for the remaining record nerds of Paris, but also possibly depressing as they continue to die off all over the world.

Get in touch with the Disquaires de Paris project here.

Top image: Disquaires de Paris.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Four houses of wood and glass sit on the water.
    Environment

    Are These Dutch Floating Homes a Solution for Rising Seas?

    Houseboats have long been a common sight near Amsterdam, but a new community may signal a premise that could work elsewhere, too.

  2. A woman sits reading on a rooftop garden, with the dense city of Tokyo surrounding her.
    Solutions

    Designing a Megacity for Mental Health

    A new report assesses how Tokyo’s infrastructure affects residents’ emotional well-being, offering lessons for other cities.

  3. A city overpass with parked cars and sparse trees
    Civic Life

    How 'Temporary Urbanism' Can Transform Struggling Industrial Towns

    Matchmaking empty spaces with local businesses and the tiny house movement are innovative solutions that can help post-industrial cities across Europe and North America adapt to the future.

  4. Environment

    Visualize the Path of the Eclipse With Live Traffic Data

    On Google Maps, a mass migration in progress.

  5. Life

    Can Anything Stop Rural Decline?

    Small towns across Japan are on the verge of collapse. Whether they can do so gracefully has consequences for societies around the globe.