A sham Paris was built near the end of World War I in an attempt to fool German bombers, according to recently unearthed archives. The fake city—built on a bend of the Seine similar to the one in Paris—boasted fake railways, fake factories, and even a fake Champs-Elysées, the Telegraph reports. Private firms were hired to create wooden replicas of buildings, and one of the country's foremost electrical engineers was hired to illuminate it.
"It's an extraordinary story and one which even Parisians knew very little about," a leading French historian says. "The plan was kept secret for obvious reasons, but it shows how seriously military planners were already taking the new threat of aerial bombardment." The bombers of the time relied solely on sight so the fake Paris may well have been enough to fool them—but the war came to an end before the project was completed.