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Despite its name – in honor of the battle – Stalingrad station is not at war. The glass-paneled elevated station offers daylight, and possibly a bit of peace.
The glass paneled walls and ‘floating’ canopy of this openwork station give the metro wings to fly. The elegance of the airy, light-filled structure is worthy of admiration. Built in 1902-1903, Stalingrad is also a technical and architectural feat, with its glass canopy overhanging the platforms with no support columns in sight. This type of station was not built again due to its considerable cost.
A main staircase at the entrance splits into two glass-covered passageways to either platform. From the street, the station looks like a giant butterfly cocoon. Low-relief garlands adorn the exterior stone walls. Originally named Aubervilliers-Boulevard de la Villette, the station became Stalingrad (Volgograd today) in 1946 in honor of the Red Army’s decisive victory over Hitler’s army in 1942.
The open-air metro
Construction of a circular, partially open-air line began in 1900 to expand an essentially underground network. Line 2, as it later became, circled the north of Paris, and Line 6, its counterpart, circled the south. Viaducts were used to overcome various structural difficulties, including sewers, underground infrastructure, quarries and the need to cross the Seine and, the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord to the north. The building process was aided by the presence of large boulevards which followed the former line of the Farmers-General wall.
Designed by the architect Jean-Camille Formigé, the station is over five meters above ground, allowing cars and double-decker buses to pass underneath. The viaduct is composed of 22-meter spans with cast-iron, riveted arches and beams.
Brick arches line the ceiling of the metal deck on which tracks are laid.
The deck is supported by alternating iron and stone columns, some of which are topped with richly-decorated Assyrian-style capitals. Motifs include the insignia of the city of Paris and neo-classical imagery: a globe, wings, and a frieze depicting the signs of the zodiac.
The metro’s open-air stations
Line 1 - Bastille
Line 2 - Jaurès - Stalingrad - La Chapelle - Barbès-Rochechouart
Line 5 - Quai de la Rapée - Gare d’Austerlitz
Line 6 - Bel Air - Quai de la Gare - Chevaleret - Nationale - Corvisart - Glacière - Saint-Jacques - Cambronne - Sèvres-Lecourbe - La Motte-Piquet Grenelle - Dupleix - Bir-Hakeim - Passy
Line 8 - Créteil l’Echat - Créteil Université - Créteil Préfecture
Line 13 - Malakoff rue Etienne Dolet - Châtillon-Montrouge