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New Signage Honors Josephine Baker in Paris

Thursday, June 20th, 2024

New Signage Honors Josephine Baker in Paris

New signage at Place Josephine Baker
© Entrée to Black Paris

Place Josephine Baker is a stop on a couple of Entrée to Black Paris' "off-the-beaten-tourist-track" walking tours in the 14th arrondissement, and I was pleased to take two scholars there the other day.

To my surprise, I found that two sides of the three-sided street sign that designates the "place" have recently been strikingly altered.

All three sides of the sign (which echoes the triangular shape of the "place") used to look like this:

Place Josephine Baker street sign
© Entrée to Black Paris

Now, the sides that face boulevard Edgar Quinet and rue Poinsot bear beautiful black & white photos of the iconic star.

Sign facing boulevard Edgar Quinet
© Entrée to Black Paris

Sign facing rue Poinsot
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The third side of the sign remains in the original format.

Sign facing Le Paradis du Fruit restaurant
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While the new signage is beautiful, I find that the lettering does not contrast sufficiently with the photos to make it easy to read.

I am also unsettled by the change in signage because important information about Baker - the facts that she served as a sublieutenant in the French Air Force on the side of the Free French Forces and was regarded as a philanthropist - is no longer visible from the street.

One needs to be on foot and deliberately circumnavigate the sign to see the original language.

The current set-up of the place, with the tables and chairs of the Paradis de Fruit restaurant now encroaching on the free space around the sign, makes this difficult.

Place Josephine Baker in 2020
© Entrée to Black Paris

Those who do not know that the sign has three sides are unlikely to even think about walking around it, especially if they are not planning to dine at the restaurant.

Place Josephine Baker in 2024
© Entrée to Black Paris

Upon close inspection of the new signage, one can observe that the images appears to be superimposed on the original sign as opposed to replacing it.  This implies that it can be removed.

At least one other street sign in the same vicinity of the 14th arrondissement has been similarly altered - that of rue Campagne Première.  The language on the new sign at the corner of boulevard du Montparnasse mentions American artist Man Ray and French singer/artist Kiki de Montparnasse.  Man Ray's apartment and photography studio were located on this street; Kiki (née Alice Prin) was his muse.

Rue Campagne Première street sign
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