Paris is a prime example of modern metropolitan life and has been an inspiration for many modern city planners, however it has not always been this way. The modern chic urban feel one gets in Paris today owes itself to the visionary urban planner Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann. Baron Haussmann was appointed by Napoleon III on the 22nd of June 1853 to modernize Paris 1. Paris at this time had seen its population double since the beginning of the century and this had led to the problems of lack of adequate housing and logistical issues due to the unsuitable medieval street layout an example of one such street can be seen in figure 1.
(Fig 1: Pre Haussmann Medieval style Parisian Street, Charles Marville 1865-69)
“How ugly Paris seems after a year’s absence. How one chokes in these dark narrow and dank corridors that we like to call the streets of Paris” 2. This quote sums up how many of Parisians viewed their city at the time and we can also assume from this quote that he was making a comparison to foreign modernised cities. It was sentiments such as this from influential members of Parisian society which would pave the way and also bankroll Haussmann’s redevelopment of Paris. Haussmann’s vision was to create wide boulevards through the city which would help to ease logistics and provide spaces in which a Parisian bourgeoisie could flourish. Along these boulevards would be new buildings, a mixture of shops cafes and apartments. All of the buildings built during the Haussmann redevelopment were expected to meet certain parameters ensuring they were visually pleasing and pleasant environments to live in and around an example of a Haussmann style apartment building can be seen in Figure 2.
(Fig 2: Haussmann Style Apartment Buildings in modern day Paris)
The new wide boulevards and architecturally stunning buildings made Paris a desirable place to live and set the benchmark for the redevelopment of urban landscapes at this time. This redevelopment and re-imagination of public space by Haussmann created a chic fashion and consumer driven bourgeoisie Parisian culture (see Fig:3) which exists to this day along its magnificent Boulevards.
(Fig 3: A depiction of Paris’s new Boulevard based Bourgeoisie, Antoine Blanchard,Rue Tronchet)
(Fig 4: Map depicting Pre-Haussmann Ile de la Cite,Paris 1789)
(Fig 5: Ile de la Cite Paris Post-Haussmann 1999, Google Earth)
Fig: 1. Marville, C. (1865-69). Retrieved from Robert Koch Gallery: http://www.kochgallery.com/exhibitions/paris2005/25.html
Fig: 3 Blanchard, A. (1910). Retrieved from Rehs Galleries, INC. http://www.rehs.com/antoine_blanchard_virtex.htm?page=6&key=2
Fig: 4 Smith, M. E. (n.d.). http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/2012/10/the-power-of-state-to-remake-cities.html. Retrieved from http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/: http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/2012_10_01_archive.html
Fig: 5 Smith, M. E. (n.d.). http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/2012/10/the-power-of-state-to-remake-cities.html. Retrieved from http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/: http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.ie/2012_10_01_archive.html
- Haussman and New Paris. (n.d.). Retrieved from mtholyoke.edu: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/mapping-paris/Haussmann.html
- Daniel A. Bell, A. d.-S. (2011). The Spirit of Cities: Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Author: Tomas Creagh, Student No: 112406628