Sidi-Ben-Ziad, Tunis, Tunisia


This photochrome print is part of “Views of Architecture and People in Tunisia” from the catalog of the Detroit Photographic Company. It shows a section of the Rue Sidi Ben Zaid in Tunis looking down to the minaret of the eighth-century Djamâa ez-Zitouna (also seen as al-Zaytuna, meaning the Mosque of the Olive Tree). This street is situated in the historic medina of Tunis, to the south of the Dar el-Bey, formerly the residence and seat of the bey, later the Palais du Gouvernement, seat of the French colonial administration and then of the independent Tunisian government. Known for its souks (covered markets), the street was usually bustling with shoppers, tailors, embroiderers, jewelry dealers, metalsmiths, and other merchants. The early 17th-century Hanefite mosque of Youssef Dey (also called the Mosque of Sidi Youssef), which is graced with a signature octagonal minaret, is also located on this street. Tunisia was occupied by the French in 1881 and administered as a protectorate in which the nominal authority of local government was recognized. Europeans at one time made up half the population in Tunis. Rapid redevelopment of the city occurred as the French built new boulevards, neighborhoods, and infrastructure and the city became divided into a traditional Arab-populated medina and a new quarter populated by immigrants. The UNESCO World Heritage List citation for the medina of Tunis states that during the medieval period and earlier “Tunis was considered one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the Islamic world. Some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains, testify to this remarkable past.” The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr. and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. They obtained the exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and printing them by photolithography. This innovative process was applied to the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market. The firm became the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905.

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Detroit Photographic Company, Detroit, Michigan

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1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color


  1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage Centre, “Medina of Tunis.”

Last updated: January 30, 2017