Paris, Île-de-France, France

Victor Hugo, on the Elephant de la Bastille

The Elephant de Bastille, a plaster model of what was intended by Napoleon to be a bronze statue, stood here from 1813-1846, and the elephant -- or rather, its disintegration -- was commemorated in Les Miserables by Hugo:

"It was falling into ruins; every season the plaster which detached itself from its sides formed hideous wounds upon it. "The aediles," as the expression ran in elegant dialect, had forgotten it ever since 1814. There it stood in its corner, melancholy, sick, crumbling, surrounded by a rotten palisade, soiled continually by drunken coachmen; cracks meandered athwart its belly, a lath projected from its tail, tall grass flourished between its legs; and, as the level of the place had been rising all around it for a space of thirty years, by that slow and continuous movement which insensibly elevates the soil of large towns, it stood in a hollow, and it looked as though the ground were giving way beneath it. It was unclean, despised, repulsive, and superb, ugly in the eyes of the bourgeois, melancholy in the eyes of the thinker."

—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862

This is a watercolor by architect Jean Alavoine

Victor Hugo, on the Elephant de la Bastille