A Morris Column in Porto, Porto

A Morris Column in Porto


I spotted this nineteenth-century-style construction in Porto and was intrigued by it and wondered what its original purpose had been. My first thought was that it had been a newspaper kiosk, but it looked too narrow for that. My second thought was that it had been a public urinal, but it wasn’t obvious how it would have been used, although I later found one of these constructions being used as a unisex toilet in Lisbon. Its actual purpose is quite simple: it is an advertising column, known as a Morris Column. Morris Columns were originally built in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century by Gabriel Morris, who was a printer, to display his advertisements and also store his equipment. In the 1980s Morris’ former company was bought by JCDecaux and they decided to build Morris Columns, in the distinctive  style of a green cast-iron column with an ornate cupola on the top, in many of the major cities of the world. In Porto this column is used to advertise cultural activities, as you can see in the photograph which shows an advertisement for Porto’s São João festival.