° Angers ° Avignon ° Bordeaux ° Boulogne (° Eustace the Monk) ° Brest ° Caen ° Callais ° Cannes ° Cette ° Cherbourg ° Corsica ° Dieppe ° Gironde ° Le Havre ° LeMans ° Limoges ° Lyon Marseilles ° Monaco ° Montpellier ° Nantes ° Nice ° Orleans ° Paris ° Reims ° Rouen ° Toulon ° La Rochelle
° Napoleon Bonaparte

Le Havre

Le Havre de Grâce was little more than a fishing village until 1517 when King Francis I of France established the ports of the Seine estuary, Honfleur and Harfleur. Located on a peninsula formed by the meeting of offshore sand bars and pebble beaches, the new Port of Le Havre was easy for ships to access. The new port contained a 64-meter long quay and a canal that connected the new port to the older, silting port at Harfleur some six kilometers inland. A citadel and fortifications were erected around the harbor in the 16th Century, but little else changed in the Port of Le Havre.

Le Havre.

The new Port of Le Havre was easy for ships to access. The new port contained a 64-meter long quay and a canal that connected the new port to the older, silting port at Harfleur some six kilometers inland. A citadel and fortifications were erected around the harbor in the 16th Century, but little else changed in the Port of Le Havre.

In 1820 and 1852, the city was enlarged, first thanks to the pushing back of the ramparts and later, to their demolition. A war port during the 17th century, successful trading with the Isles during the 18th century and emigration to America during the 19th century; all this contributed to a high demography and a fast development of the city of Le Havre. The industrialisation beginning in the 1920's gives the first place to the city in Normandy thanks to its worldwide coffee and cotton market.

Le Havre. Pissaro.

Le Havre. Pissaro.

The port began to function as an emigration port at the end of the Napoleonic wars (1815), when mass movement once again became possible. As elsewhere, boarding passengers was a by-product of commercial shipments. As ship travel gained importance due to world-wide immigration patterns, the docks at Le Havre were enlarged to accommodate the increased steamboat traffic, initially on the Seine. The first major group of emigrants were Swiss and Alsatians.

In 1818, passage from Le Havre to America was 350-400 francs. Initially, emigrants booked passage directly with the ship captain, causing crowds of several thousand persons during sailing season to gather while waiting to leave. The wait often extended for weeks and emigrants waited in lodging houses, as well as outdoors.

A German colony of innkeepers, shopkeepers and brokers subsequently developed to service the emigrant needs at the port.

In 1837, the French government required Germans to present a valid ticket at the French border, severely limiting their entry and business at the port. As such, local offices began opening in Switzerland and the German states. Previously, the only document required to cross the border had been a passport.

The period 1850-1914 became a golden age for Le Havre. Business exploded and the city became more and more impressive with large boulevards, a city hall, court house, and a new financial exchange. The effects of the industrial revolution were everywhere. By 1841, there were 32 steamships in the harbor, and the shipyards develop. The railroad which was built in 1847 allowed the opening up of Le Havre. The docks were constructed in the same time period, as well as general stores.

The harbor remained the port of the Americas: it received tropical products (coffee, cotton). European coastal shipping carried wood, coal and wheat from northern Europe; wine and oil from the Mediterranean. The abolition of the African slave trade brought with it, little by little, a change in that traffic. During the first part of the 19th century, the port maintained the Atlantic slave trade (in 1815, during the congress of Vienna, the importing of slaves was forbidden).

January 10, 1871, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Defenses of Havre.

The correspondent of The London Telegraph at Havre writes December 11th:

The road by which I drove this morning leads directly into Havre; and the approaching enemy, if they wish to reach the town, must paiss along it. At right angles with this road is a range of hills The French have not been slow to perceive the immense advantage of such a position. On the high round commanding the road they have placed some- strong batteries. If the men have only courage enough to hold the position for even a short time, they must succeed in inflicting ooisiderable damage on the advancing and unprotected foe. In fact, should the French soldiery act as they ought to act, the Germans will have to penetrate through some very formidable obstacles before they stand face to face with the walls of Havre.

With the exception of half a regiment of hussars, and a few nondescripts of several line regiments, the regular army is completely unrepresented by the actual garrison of Havre. Many and different opinions are held as to trhe resistance which our defenders are likely to give the invader. Some speak of our troops in terms of the greatest admiration, and have the highest expectations of what they are going to do. So far as men holding such opinions use words of admiration for the bravery and spirit of the Mobiles, I fully agree with them; but when they go on to assert that these untrained soldiers are capable of making any stand whatever against the enemy, I do differ from them most materially. I have not seen yet a single battalion fit to take the field against the German troops. The men are animated! with the best spirit, and are, for the most part, fine fellows; but, in my opinion, it is simple butchery to send such troops into battle.

The correspondent of the London Standar writes:

The defences of Havre consists of a line of forts! and batteries running along the crest of a range of hills, commenoirg about a mile beyond Le Havve, on the sea coast to Harfleur. on the River Seine. They are about three miles from the outskirts of the town of Havre, and are armed with about 100 heavy guns. These lines 'are about six miles in length, and can only be approached by two roads both of which are well swept by batteries, and the position is so formidable by nature, that, with a flanking fire on both extremities from the men-of-war, they could easily be held by 10,000 good troops against all the Prussians in France.

June 11, 1893, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Ocean Steamships
French Line to Havre

COMPANY's PIER (NEW), 42 North River, foot of Morton st. Travelers by this line avoid both transit by English railway and the discomfort of crossing the channel in a small boat.

LA CHAMPAGNE, Laurent: Saturday, June 17, Noon.

LA TOURAINE, Capt. Franguel: Saturday, June 24, 4:00 A.M.

LA GASOGNE, Capt. San Elli, Saturday, July 1, 10:00 A.M.

LA BOURGOGNE, Capt. Leboeuf, Saturday, July 8, 4:00 A.M.

For further particulars apply to

A. FORGET, Agent
No. 3 Bowling Green, New York
J. F. FUGAZI & CO., Agents, 5 Montgomery ave.,
San Francisco
Branch office, 19 Montgomery St.

April 19, 1939, Madera Tribune, Madera, California

Art Treasures Lost

French Liner Sinks After Burning All Night at Le Havre Dock

LE HAVRE, France, April 19. The French liner Paris overturned and sank at her dock today after burning all night.

The third ship of the French line to be destroyed by fire in the jpast five years, she had in her hold part of a $460,000 shipment lof art treasures destined for the world’s fair in New York. One case of are treasures was lost but nine others had not been loaded jand were safe.

Suspicion of foreign sabotage was emphasized by French newspapers as authorities investigated the unexplained fire.

Claude Monet

Coalmen. Claude Monet. 1875. Musee-Orsay, France. Coalmen, by Claude Monet, 1875.
Musee-Orsay, France

Monet shared the preoccupations of some of his contemporaries, such as the painter Degas or the novelist Zola, who were trying to describe all the facets of modern life. The artist lived at Argenteuil from 1871 to 1878 and often went to Paris by the train which crossed the Seine over the railway bridge at Asnires, near where this scene takes place. The bridge in the foreground is the road bridge at Asnires, and the Clichy bridge can just be made out in the grey haze of the background.

A scene showing labourers is unusual in Monet's oeuvre. The Seine here is not the light-hearted setting for regattas, but the river plied by heavy barges. The banks are lined not with trees, but smoking chimneys. Sunday strollers have given way to workers unloading coal from the barges to supply the nearby factory.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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