Behind busy Place de la République, an unremarkable plaque sits on a huge square building that now houses the French Republican Guard. It commemorates the location of an early 1800s entertainment hall that gave viewers the illusion of watching moving images by directing shafts of sunlight at painted and transparent fabric. Built by Louis Daguerre and called a diorama, it caused quite a stir.
What is even more cool is that right about here, or just one block away, Daguerre captured the first known photographic image of a person.
Looking out over Boulevard du Temple, a crowded street even then, Daguerre set up his equipment in 1838 and took this photograph. According to the book The Invention of Paris, Daguerre’s method required such a long exposure—about ten minutes—that moving people and traffic disappeared in the final image. But a man on the bottom left getting his boots cleaned happened to stand still long enough that his image is preserved. Those shoes must have been mighty shiny.
The other person on the plaque, with the Pink Panther-like name Nicéphore Niepce, is credited with developing the base process on which Daguerre built his technique.
Thanks Wikipedia for some of the historical details.