part of the history of Geneva
Its history is tied to that of the pumping station from which it takes its name.
In Geneva, in the early years of the eighteenth century, to have running water at home was a luxury made possible by Joseph Abeille, an engineer originally from Brittany, France, who in 1708 built a pumping station that became known as the Machine Abeille. It remained in service until 1843, when the State Council voted to replace it with a more powerful system.
A wooden bridge was built that same year, thanks to which pedestrians could cross between the two banks of the river. It was replaced in 1887 by an iron bridge, the present-day Pont de la Machine. The bridge was a natural choice for the Arcades des Arts, having been restored thanks to skills that only a handful of craftsmen continue to master. It stands at the centre of what was Geneva’s industrial heart, where the most precious artisan trades and traditions developed.
Geneva’s economy and craft skills
Geneva prospered during the Age of Enlightenment. Three activities underpinned its economy.
In the eighteenth century, Geneva was one of Europe’s foremost financial centres. The Pont de la Machine has watched as skills old and new have developed in the city. It spans two sides of the river as well as two ages. Arcades des Arts is now part of its story.