This is a photo of La Samaritaine, a large department store in Paris. Since 2005, the 19th-century building has been closed for reasons of security and renovation to modern standards, and it is estimated that it will reopen its doors by the end of 2011.
The store was first opened in 1869 by Ernest Cognacq , starting out on a small scale with a very small boutique. Through the steady acquisition of neighboring buildings, Cognacq regularly expanded what could no longer be called a "boutique." The surrounding city blocks were entirely reworked and reconstructed progressively from 1883 to 1933. Notably, between 1903 and 1907, this work was taken on by the architect Frantz Jourdain, who applied an Art Nouveau aesthetic to the building. Further structural changes were successfully completed in 1933 by Henri Sauvage who, in his turn, reworked the architecture to reflect the aesthetic principles of Art Déco. The result was an eleven-story department store, one that is today considered a historical monument.
The store is well-known for its rooftop café, which affords excellent views of the city.