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Crowd barriers, a Belgian invention

In Belgium, crowd barriers are sometimes called Nadar Gates, after the 19th-century French photographer and balloonist Nadar. Nadar was the pseudonym of Felix Tournachon, best known for his photographs of celebrities from his time. In 1863 he writes a work about an aircraft that moves under its own power and that "is heavier than air", although he himself invented several balloons.

He had a huge balloon built, Le Géant, 40 meters high and filled with 6,000 m³ of gas. On September 26, 1864, he took off with his colossal balloon Le Géant from the Botanical Garden in Brussels to fly all the way to Austria or Turkey.

photographer unknown

As it was very dangerous to get too close to the gas balloon and as the crowd was at times quite pushy, a certain perimeter around the balloon was cordoned off with easily movable barriers. The former mayor of Brussels, Jules Anspach had the streets blocked off with crushed barriers specially made for the occasion, which were later given the name Nadar Gates. The anarchist balloonist was not particularly honored by it.

Picture by Guillaume Paumier

Nadar's balloon did not fly to Austria or Turkey as he had hoped but landed the following night between the city of Ypres and the North Sea. But his name still lives on in Belgium today, as a way to keep people away and inline, you can find them everywhere!


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