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Over 150 years old, the Morris column, operated today by JCDecaux, blends with urban landscapes around the world while keeping its authenticity.
While JCDecaux was created in 1964, there is one type of advertising street furniture that has been around for more than 150 years: the advertising column. This cylindrical support first appeared in Berlin in the 1850s, created by printer Ernst Litfass to combat fly posting.

At the same time, in Paris, French printer, Gabriel Morris, who specialised in event posters, built similar columns to store maintenance equipment and post the advertising his company printed for shows.

In 1900, when Paris had some 200 columns spread around several districts, the Morris company became “La Société Fermière des Colonnes-Affiches”, specialised in promoting cultural activities.
Vintage Morris Column - Paris, France

In 1986, JCDecaux acquired la Société Fermière and decided to modernize the columns’ design and use. They began to house multiple services and were exported whenever the Group's subsidiaries won tenders abroad. This is how columns came to be installed equipped with newspaper kiosks in San Francisco, internet terminals in Berlin, public toilets in London and glass collection bins in Madrid. Backlighting was introduced to optimise visibility and the impact of the visuals being displayed.

Like newspaper kiosks (MédiaKiosk in France, in which JCDecaux has been a majority shareholder since 2011), advertising columns are now part and parcel of the global urban landscape. In France, they are still used to advertise cultural activities, with a design that echoes their historical format in many cities. Around the world, the columns come in many designs according to the wishes of each city which adopts the Morris column, one of the first pieces of advertising street furniture ever.

Published in The Company, about #50-year anniversary