Postcard Sellers

Postcard sellers weaved through the crowds along the sidewalks by the river, holding up handfuls of images for all to see and buy. Despite the suffering, many people wanted to remember the dramatic events now that they seemed to be over, and postcards were a cheap and easy way to do so. As early as the 23rd, one American witnessing the rise of the Seine remembered: "When we reached the Rue FĂ©licien David and actually saw people in boats, we bought photographs from an enterprising hawker, wanting to preserve this souvenir of Paris."

Dozens of photographers had been combing the city streets during the days of high water, capturing the struggle and triumph in the human drama that unfolded in front of their lenses. And they were now selling those photos back to the residents who had lived through the experience. Vendors offered these mementos either individually or in small booklets with perforated edges so that cards could be easily detached.