We called the Tête d’Or park the green lung of the city. It is one of the main places for the Lyonnais. Sportsmen come to train, families come for a walk, friends come to rest, tourists come to discover it… Today, we give you the top 5 important dates of the park:
1857: the beginnings of the Tête d’Or Park
The Tête d’Or park was created thanks to the mayor of Lyon, Claude-Marius Vaïsse, who wanted to “give nature to those who don’t have it“. He called on Belher brothers and Gustave Bonnet to create the largest urban park in France. The Tête d’Or park opened its doors in 1857, although the construction was not finished yet (it ended in 1861). This park, large of more than 117 hectares (290 acres), has many secrets that we tell you during our 2-hour Segway tour and 1,5h eBike tour.
1861: building of a cowshed
As soon as the Tête d’Or park opens, the question of animal reception is at the centre of discussions. Mr. Vaïsse decided this: “We will only raise, in the park, useful animals or animals that are unique to the ornament of the parks and perfectly acclimatized“. Chickens, cows and sheeps were the first animals to arrive in the park. The milk produced by the animals was sold in Bellecour Square. A cowshed was built of wood and thatch but was destroyed, in 1871, by a fire. In 1904, that Mayor Victor Augagneur called on Tony Garnier to create a new building for the cows. This new facility has the capacity to accommodate 40 cows and not one more! But the demand for milk continues to grow and the cowshed cannot increase its yield. The Mayor Edouard Herriot decided to close the cowshed permanently and the animals were transferred to another city, Cibeins (Ain). Then, the Tête d’Or park welcomed more and more exotic animals. Today, almost 300 animals are inside the park.
1865: The botanical garden and its greenhouses
The botanical garden of the Tête d’Or park is one of the richest in Europe making it a popular place for specialists from all over the world. About 16,000 plants are spread over 8 hectares (20 acres), including 6500 m² of greenhouses. The first wooden greenhouses were created in 1865. Unfortunately, the wood was not the ideal material because it started to rot because of the humidity and heat that plants require. It was necessary to act quickly to avoid damaging the plants. In 1880, new greenhouses were built, this time made of metal. But over the years, the iron begins to rust and erode the structure. In 1970, the authorities decided to close the greenhouses to the public to avoid accidents. The following year, major renovations took place to make the greenhouses as you can see them today.
1891: First license plate of the world
As soon as the Tête d’Or park opened, cars were allowed inside the park. But there were a lot of accidents between cars and pedestrians. That is why the Mayor, Antoine Gailleton, commended the temporary wearing of an identification number. Therefore, car drivers took a number when they entered the park and give it back on the way out. Thus the identification of the bad drivers could be made. The mayor decided to extend this project to the whole city and made it mandatory to carry a license plate on every car. This is how the world’s first license plate was born !
1894: World, International and Colonial Exhibition
It was on this occasion, for te World’s Exibithion that the metal tower (nicknamed “Eiffel Tower Lyonnaise“) was created. Inspired by Eiffel’s work, the Société Anomyme de la Tour de Fourvière created a tower of 89 meters high, that was put on the top of Fourvière hill (it become the highest point in the city). There was a beautiful panoramic view over Lyon! This point of view also provided an overview of the world’s exhibition, which was taking place at the Tête d’Or park! Moreover, the velodrome, located on an island in the park, was also created on this occasion. Bicycle races were held in the velodrome to exhibit the latest models of bikes. This world, international and colonial exhibition is infamous because of the murder of French President Sadi Carnot…