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While Pierre-Auguste Renoir's masterpiece 'Luncheon of the Boating Party' is frequently admired as a paradigm of the Impressionist period, it also highlights how technology can change society. In the upper left hand corner of the painting, obscured by the awning, is a subtle rendering of the Chatou railroad bridge. Completed by the French government in the 1860s as part of the national railway system, the new transportation infrastructure allowed Renoir and his peers to easily avail themselves of a variety of picturesque locations along the Seine for picnics and gatherings. River-side towns along the railway lines became sites for entertainment options like dance halls, bathing, sailing and boat clubs. Before the development of the railway, these spots were typically only available to the very wealthy. With the advent of the technology, many Parisians from all social classes could benefit from weekend leisure and entertainment choices not readily available previously.

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