Haussmann’s renovation of Paris was a vast public works program commissioned by Emperor Napoléon III and directed by his prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870. It included the demolition of medieval neighborhoods that were deemed overcrowded and unhealthy by officials at the time; the building of wide avenues; new parks and squares; the annexation of the suburbs surrounding Paris; and the construction of new sewers, fountains and aqueducts. Haussmann’s work was met with fierce opposition, and he was finally dismissed by Napoleon III in 1870; but work on his projects continued until 1927. The street plan and distinctive appearance of the center of Paris today is largely the result of Haussmann’s renovation.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the center of Paris was overcrowded, dark, dangerous, and unhealthy. In 1845, the French social reformer Victor Considerant wrote: “Paris is an immense workshop of putrefaction, where misery, pestilence and sickness work in concert, where sunlight and air rarely penetrate. Paris is a terrible place where plants shrivel and perish, and where, of seven small infants, four die during the course of the year.” The street plan on the Île de la Cité and in the neighborhood called the “quartier des Arcis”, between the Louvre and the “Hôtel de Ville” (City Hall), had changed little since the Middle Ages. The population density in these neighborhoods was extremely high, compared with the rest of Paris; in the neighborhood of the Champs-Élysées, population density was estimated at 5380 km2; in the neighborhoods of Arcis and Saint-Avoye, in the present Third Arrondissement, there was one inhabitant for every three square meters. In 1840, a doctor described one building in the Île de la Cité where a single room five meters square on the fourth floor was occupied by twenty-three people, both adults and children. In these conditions, disease spread very quickly. Cholera epidemics ravaged the city in 1832 and 1848. In the epidemic of 1848, five percent of the inhabitants of these two neighborhoods died.
Traffic circulation was another major problem. The widest streets in these two neighborhoods were only five meters wide; the narrowest were only one or two meters wide. Wagons, carriages and carts could barely move through the streets.
The center of the city was also a cradle of discontent and revolution; between 1830 and 1848, seven armed uprisings and revolts had broken out in the centre of Paris, particularly along the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, around the Hôtel de Ville, and around Montagne Sainte-Geneviève on the left bank. The residents of these neighborhoods had taken up paving stones and blocked the narrow streets with barricades, and had to be dislodged by the army.
Haussmann begins work – the Croisée de Paris (1853–59)
Napoléon III dismissed Berger as the Prefect of the Seine and sought a more effective manager. His minister of the interior, Victor de Persigny, interviewed several candidates, and selected Georges Eugène Haussmann, a native of Alsace and Prefect of the Gironde (capital: Bordeaux), who impressed Persigny with his energy, audacity, and ability to overcome or get around problems and obstacles. He became Prefect of the Seine on 22 June 1853, and on 29 June the Emperor showed him the map of Paris and instructed Haussmann to aérer, unifier, et embellir Paris: to give it air and open space, to connect and unify the different parts of the city into one whole, and to make it more beautiful.
Haussmann went to work immediately on the first phase of the renovation desired by Napoléon III; completing the grande croisée de Paris, a great cross in the centre of Paris that would permit easier communication from east to west along the rue de Rivoli and rue Saint-Antoine, and north-south communication along two new Boulevards, Strasbourg and Sébastopol. The grand cross had been proposed by the Convention during the Revolution, and begun by Napoléon I; Napoléon III was determined to complete it. Completion of the rue de Rivoli was given an even higher priority, because the Emperor wanted it finished before the opening of the Paris Universal Exposition of 1855, only two years away, and he wanted the project to include a new hotel, the Grand Hôtel du Louvre, the first large luxury hotel in the city, to house the Imperial guests at the Exposition.
Under the Emperor, Haussmann had greater power than any of his predecessors. In February 1851 the French Senate had simplified the laws on expropriation, giving him the authority to expropriate all the land on either side of a new street; and he did not have to report to the Parliament, only to the Emperor. The French parliament, controlled by Napoléon III, provided fifty million francs, but this was not nearly enough. Napoléon III appealed to the Péreire brothers, Émile and Isaac, two bankers who had created a new investment bank, Crédit Mobilier. The Péreire brothers organised a new company which raised 24 million francs to finance the construction of the street, in exchange for the rights to develop real estate along the route. This became a model for the building of all of Haussmann’s future boulevards.
To meet the deadline, three thousand workers laboured on the new boulevard twenty-four hours a day. The rue de Rivoli was completed, and the new hotel opened in March 1855, in time to welcome guests to the Exposition. The junction was made between the rue de Rivoli and rue Saint-Antoine; in the process Haussmann restyled the Place du Carrousel, opened up a new square, Place Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois facing the colonnade of the Louvre; reorganized the space between the Hôtel de Ville and the place du Châtelet. Between the Hôtel and Ville and the Bastille square, he widened the rue Saint-Antoine; he was careful to save the historic Hôtel de Sully and Hôtel de Mayenne, but many other buildings, both medieval and modern, were knocked down to make room for the wider street, and several ancient, dark and narrow streets, rue de l’Arche-Marion, rue du Chevalier-le-Guet and rue des Mauvaises-Paroles, disappeared from the map.
In 1855, work began on the north-south axis, beginning with Boulevard de Strasbourg and Boulevard Sébastopol, which cut through the center of some of the most crowded neighborhoods in Paris, where the cholera epidemic had been the worst, between the rue Saint-Martin and rue Saint-Denis. “It was the gutting of old Paris,” Haussmann wrote with satisfaction in his Memoires: of the neighborhood of riots, and of barricades, from one end to the other.” The Boulevard Sébastopol ended at the new Place du Châtelet; a new bridge, the Pont-au-Change, was constructed across the Seine, and crossed the island on a newly built street. On the left bank, the north-south axis was continued by the Boulevard Saint-Michel, which was cut in a straight line from the Seine to the Observatory, and then, as the rue d’Enfer, extended all the way to the route d’Orléans. The north-south axis was completed in 1859.
The two axes crossed at the Place du Châtelet, making it the center of Haussmann’s Paris. Haussmann widened the square, moved the Fontaine du Palmier, built by Napoléon I, to the center and built two new theaters, facing each other across the square; the Cirque Impérial (now the Théâtre du Châtelet) and the Théâtre Lyrique (now Théâtre de la Ville).
The second phase – a network of new boulevards (1859–1867)
In the first phase of his renovation Haussmann constructed 9,467 metres (6 miles) of new boulevards, at a net cost of 278 million francs. The official parliamentary report of 1859 found that it had “brought air, light and healthiness and procured easier circulation in a labyrinth that was constantly blocked and impenetrable, where streets were winding, narrow, and dark.” It had employed thousands of workers, and most Parisians were pleased by the results. His second phase, approved by the Emperor and parliament in 1858 and begun in 1859, was much more ambitious. He intended to build a network of wide boulevards to connect the interior of Paris with the ring of grand boulevards built by Louis XVIII during the restoration, and to the new railroad stations which Napoleon III considered the real gates of the city. He planned to construct 26,294 metres (16 miles) of new avenues and streets, at a cost of 180 million francs. Haussmann’s plan called for the following:
On the right bank:
The construction of a large new square, place du Chateau-d’Eau (the modern Place de la République). This involved demolishing the famous theater street known as “le boulevard du Crime”, made famous in the film Les Enfants du Paradis; and the construction of three new major streets: the boulevard du Prince Eugène (the modern boulevard Voltaire); the boulevard Magenta and rue Turbigo. Boulevard Voltaire became one of the longest streets in the city, and became the central axis of the eastern neighborhoods of the city. It would end at the place du Trône (the modern Place de la Nation).
The extension of boulevard Magenta to connect it with the new railway station, the Gare du Nord.
The construction of boulevard Malesherbes, to connect the place de la Madeleine to the new Monceau neighborhood. The construction of this street obliterated one of the most sordid and dangerous neighborhoods in the city, called la Petite Pologne, where Paris policemen rarely ventured at night.
A new square, place de l’Europe, in front of the Gare Saint-Lazare railway station. The station was served by two new boulevards, rue de Rome and rue Saint-Lazaire. In addition, the rue de Madrid was extended and two other streets, rue de Rouen (the modern rue Auber) and rue Halevy, were built in this neighborhood.
Parc Monceau was redesigned and replanted, and part of the old park made into a residential quarter.
The rue de Londres and rue de Constantinople, under a new name, avenue de Villiers, was extended to porte Champerret.
The Étoile, around the Arc de Triomphe, was completely redesigned. A star of new avenues radiated from the Étoile; avenue de Bezons (now Wagram); avenue Kleber; avenue Josephine (now Monceau); avenue Prince-Jerome (now Mac-Mahon and Niel); avenue Essling (now Carnot); and a wider avenue de Saint-Cloud (now Victor-Hugo).
Avenue Daumesnil was built as far as the new Bois de Vincennes, a huge new park being constructed on the east edge of the city.
The hill of Chaillot was leveled, and a new square created at the Pont d’Alma. Three new boulevards were built in this neighborhood: avenue d’Alma (the present George V); avenue de l’Empereur (the present avenue du President-Wilson), which connected the places d’Alma, d’Iena and du Trocadéro. In addition, four new streets were built in that neighborhood: rue Francois-Ier, rue Pierre Charron, rue Marbeuf and rue de Marignan.
On the left bank:
Two new boulevards, avenue Bosquet and avenue Rapp, were constructed, beginning from the pont de l’Alma.
The avenue de la Tour Maubourg was extended as far as the pont des Invalides.
A new street, boulevard Arago, was constructed, to open up place Denfert-Rochereau.
A new street, boulevard d’Enfer (today’s boulevard Raspail) was built up to the intersection Sèvres–Babylone.
The streets around the Panthéon on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève were extensively changed. A new street, avenue des Gobelins, was created, and part of rue Mouffetard was expanded. Another new street, rue Monge, was created on the east, while another new street, rue Claude Bernard, on the south. Rue Soufflot, built by Rambuteau, was entirely rebuilt.
On the Île de la Cité:
The island became an enormous construction site, which completely destroyed most of the old streets and neighborhoods. Two new government buildings, the Tribunal de Commerce and the Prefecture de Police, were built, occupying a large part of the island. Two new streets were also built, the boulevard du Palais and the rue de Lutèce. Two bridges, the pont Saint-Michel and the pont-au-Change were completely rebuilt, along with the embankments near them. The Palais de Justice and place Dauphine were extensively modified. At the same time, Haussmann preserved and restored the jewels of the island; the square in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame was widened, the spire of the Cathedral, pulled down during the Revolution, was restored, and Sainte-Chapelle and the ancient Conciergerie were saved and restored.
The grand projects of the second phase were mostly welcomed, but also caused criticism. Haussmann was especially criticized for his taking large parts of the Jardin du Luxembourg to make room for the present-day boulevard Raspail, and for its connection with the boulevard Saint-Michel. The Medici Fountain had to be moved further into the park, and was reconstructed with the addition of statuary and a long basin of water. Haussmann was also criticized for the growing cost of his projects; the estimated cost for the 26,290 metres (86,250 ft) of new avenues had been 180 million francs, but grew to 410 million francs; property owners whose buildings had been expropriated won a legal case entitling them to a larger payments, and many property owners found ingenious ways to increase the value of their expropriated properties by inventing non-existent shops and businesses, and charging the city for lost revenue.
Paris doubles in size – the annexation of 1860
On 1 January 1860 Napoleon III officially annexed the suburbs of Paris out to the ring of fortifications around the city. The annexation included eleven communes; Auteuil, Batignolles-Monceau, Montmartre, La Chapelle, Passy, La Villette, Belleville, Charonne, Bercy, Grenelle and Vaugirard, along with pieces of other outlying towns. The residents of these suburbs were not entirely happy to be annexed; they did not want to pay the higher taxes, and wanted to keep their independence, but they had no choice; Napoleon III was Emperor, and he could arrange boundaries as he wished. With the annexation Paris was enlarged from twelve to twenty arrondissements, the number today. The annexation more than doubled the area of the city from 3,300 hectares to 7,100 hectares, and the population of Paris instantly grew by 400,000 to 1,600,000 persons. The annexation made it necessary for Haussmann to enlarge his plans, and to construct new boulevards to connect the new arrondissements with the center. In order to connect Auteuil and Passy to the center of Paris, he built rues Michel-Ange, Molitor and Mirabeau. To connect the plain of Monceau, he built avenues Villers, Wagram, and boulevard Malesherbes. To reach the northern arrondissements he extended boulevard Magenta with boulevard d’Ornano as far as the Porte de la Chapelle, and in the east extended the rue des Pyrénées.
The third phase and mounting criticism (1869–70)
The third phase of renovations was proposed in 1867 and approved in 1869, but it faced much more opposition than the earlier phases. Napoleon III had decided to liberalize his empire in 1860, and to give a greater voice to the parliament and to the opposition. The Emperor had always been less popular in Paris than in the rest of the country, and the republican opposition in parliament focused its attacks on Haussmann. Haussmann ignored the attacks and went ahead with the third phase, which planned the construction of twenty eight kilometers of new boulevards at an estimated cost of 280 million francs.
The third phase included these projects on the right bank:
The renovation of the gardens of the Champs-Élysées.
Finishing the place du Château d’Eau (now Place de la Republique), creating a new avenue des Amandiers and extending avenue Parmentier.
Finishing the place du Trône (now Place de la Nation) and opening three new boulevards: avenue Philippe-Auguste, avenue Taillebourg, and avenue de Bouvines.
Extending the rue Caulaincourt and preparing a future Pont Caulaincourt.
Building a new rue de Châteaudon and clearing the space around the church of Notre-Dame de Lorette, making room for connection between the gare Saint-Lazare and the gare du Nord and gare de l’Est.
Finishing the place in front of the Gare du Nord. Rue Maubeuge was extended from Montmartre to the boulevard de la Chapelle, and rue Lafayette was extended to the porte de Pantin.
The place de l’Opéra had been created during the first and second phases; the opera itself was to be built in the third phase.
Extending boulevard Haussmann from the place Saint-Augustin to rue Taitbout, connecting the new quarter of the Opera with that of Etoile.
Creating the place du Trocadéro, the starting point of two new avenues, the modern President-Wilson and Henri-Martin.
Creating the place Victor Hugo, the starting point of avenues Malakoff and Bugeaud and rues Boissière and Copernic.
Finishing the Rond-Point of the Champs-Élysées, with the construction of avenue d’Antin (now Franklin Roosevelt) and rue La Boétie.
On the left bank:
Building the boulevard Saint-Germain from the pont de la Concorde to rue du Bac; building rue des Saints-Pères and rue de Rennes.
Extending the rue de la Glacière and enlarging place Monge.
Haussmann did not have time to finish the third phase, as he soon came under intense attack from the opponents of Napoleon III.
The downfall of Haussmann (1870) and the completion of his work (1927)
In 1867, one of the leaders of the parliamentary opposition to Napoleon, Jules Ferry, ridiculed the accounting practices of Haussmann as Les Comptes fantastiques d’Haussmann (“The fantastic (bank) accounts of Haussmann”), a play-on-words based on the “Les Contes d’Hoffman” Offenbach operetta popular at the time. In the parliamentary elections of May 1869, the government candidates won 4.43 million votes, while the opposition republicans won 3.35 million votes. In Paris, the republican candidates won 234,000 votes to 77,000 for the Bonapartist candidates, and took eight of the nine seats of Paris deputies. At the same time Napoleon III was increasingly ill, suffering from gallstones which were to cause his death in 1873, and preoccupied by the political crisis that would lead to the Franco-Prussian War. In December 1869 Napoleon III named an opposition leader and fierce critic of Haussmann, Emile Ollivier, as his new prime minister. Napoleon gave in to the opposition demands in January 1870 and asked Haussmann to resign. Haussmann refused to resign, and the Emperor reluctantly dismissed him on 5 January 1870. Eight months later, during the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III was captured by the Germans, and the Empire was overthrown.
In his memoirs, written many years later, Haussmann had this comment on his dismissal: “In the eyes of the Parisians, who like routine in things but are changeable when it comes to people, I committed two great wrongs: Over the course of seventeen years, I disturbed their daily habits by turning Paris upside down, and they had to look at the same face of the Prefect in the Hotel de Ville. These were two unforgivable complaints.”
Haussmann’s successor as prefect of the Seine appointed Jean-Charles Alphand, the head of Haussmann’s department of parks and plantations, as the director of works of Paris. Alphand respected the basic concepts of his plan. Despite their intense criticism of Napoleon III and Haussmann during the Second Empire, the leaders of the new Third Republic continued and finished his renovation projects.
1875 – completion of the Paris Opéra
1877 – completion of the boulevard Saint-Germain
1877 – completion of the avenue de l’Opéra
1879 – completion of the boulevard Henri IV
1889 – completion of the avenue de la République
1907 – completion of the boulevard Raspail
1927 – completion of the boulevard Haussmann
Green space – parks and gardens
Prior to Haussmann, Paris had only four public parks: the Jardin des Tuileries, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Palais Royal, all in the center of the city, and the Parc Monceau, the former property of the family of King Louis Philippe, in addition to the Jardin des Plantes, the city’s botanical garden and oldest park. Napoleon III had already begun construction of the Bois de Boulogne, and wanted to build more new parks and gardens for the recreation and relaxation of the Parisians, particularly those in the new neighborhoods of the expanding city. Napoleon III’s new parks were inspired by his memories of the parks in London, especially Hyde Park, where he had strolled and promenaded in a carriage while in exile; but he wanted to build on a much larger scale. Working with Haussmann, Jean-Charles Alphand, the engineer who headed the new Service of Promenades and Plantations, whom Haussmann brought with him from Bordeaux, and his new chief gardener, Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, also from Bordeaux, laid out a plan for four major parks at the cardinal points of the compass around the city. Thousands of workers and gardeners began to dig lakes, build cascades, plant lawns, flowerbeds and trees. construct chalets and grottoes. Haussmann and Alphand created the Bois de Boulogne (1852–1858) to the west of Paris: the Bois de Vincennes (1860–1865) to the east; the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (1865–1867) to the north, and Parc Montsouris (1865–1878) to the south. In addition to building the four large parks, Haussmann and Alphand redesigned and replanted the city’s older parks, including Parc Monceau, and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Altogether, in seventeen years, they planted six hundred thousand trees and added two thousand hectares of parks and green space to Paris. Never before had a city built so many parks and gardens in such a short time.
Under Louis Philippe, a single public square had been created, at the tip of the Ile-de-la-Cité. Haussmann wrote in his memoirs that Napoleon III instructed him: “do not miss an opportunity to build, in all the arrondissements of Paris, the greatest possible number of squares, in order to offer the Parisians, as they have done in London, places for relaxation and recreation for all the families and all the children, rich and poor.” In response Haussmann created twenty-four new squares; seventeen in the older part of the city, eleven in the new arrondissements, adding 150,000 square meters of green space. Alphand termed these small parks “green and flowering salons.” Haussmann’s goal was to have one park in each of the eighty neighborhoods of Paris, so that no one was more than ten minutes’ walk from such a park. The parks and squares were an immediate success with all classes of Parisians.
The architecture of Haussmann’s Paris
The Palais Garnier or Paris Opera (1875), then the largest theater in the world, begun by Napoleon III but not finished until 1875. The style was described by its architect, Charles Garnier, simply as “Napoleon III.”
Napoleon III and Haussmann commissioned a wide variety of architecture, some of it traditional, some of it very innovative, like the glass and iron pavilions of Les Halles; and some of it, such as the Opéra Garnier, commissioned by Napoleon III, designed by Charles Garnier but not finished until 1875, is difficult to classify. Many of the buildings were designed by the city architect, Gabriel Davioud, who designed everything from city halls and theaters to park benches and kiosks.
The Haussmann building
The most famous and recognizable feature of Haussmann’s renovation of Paris are the Haussmann apartment buildings which line the boulevards of Paris. Street blocks were designed as homogeneous architectural wholes. He treated buildings not as independent structures, but as pieces of a unified urban landscape.
In 18th-century Paris, buildings were usually narrow (often only six meters wide); deep (sometimes forty meters) and tall—as many as five or six stories. The ground floor usually contained a shop, and the shopkeeper lived in the rooms above the shop. The upper floors were occupied by families; the top floor, under the roof, was originally a storage place, but under the pressure of the growing population, was usually turned into a low-cost residence. In the early 19th century, before Haussmann, the height of buildings was strictly limited to 22.41 meters, or four floors above the ground floor. The city also began to see a demographic shift; wealthier families began moving to the western neighborhoods, partly because there was more space, and partly because the prevailing winds carried the smoke from the new factories in Paris toward the east.
In Haussmann’s Paris, the streets became much wider, growing from an average of twelve meters wide to twenty-four meters, and in the new arrondissements, often to eighteen meters wide.
The interiors of the buildings were left to the owners of the buildings, but the façades were strictly regulated, to ensure that they were the same height, color, material, and general design, and were harmonious when all seen together.
Underneath the streets of Haussmann’s Paris – the renovation of the city’s infrastructure
While he was rebuilding the boulevards of Paris, Haussmann simultaneously rebuilt the dense labyrinth of pipes, sewers and tunnels under the streets which provided Parisians with basic services. Haussmann wrote in his mémoires: “The underground galleries are an organ of the great city, functioning like an organ of the human body, without seeing the light of day; clean and fresh water, light and heat circulate like the various fluids whose movement and maintenance serves the life of the body; the secretions are taken away mysteriously and don’t disturb the good functioning of the city and without spoiling its beautiful exterior.”
Haussmann began with the water supply. Before Haussmann, drinking water in Paris was either lifted by steam engines from the Seine, or brought by a canal, started by Napoleon I, from the river Ourcq, a tributary of the river Marne. The quantity of water was insufficient for the fast-growing city, and, since the sewers also emptied into the Seine near the intakes for drinking water, it was also notoriously unhealthy. In March 1855 Haussmann appointed Eugene Belgrand, a graduate of the École Polytechnique, to the post of Director of Water and Sewers of Paris.
Belgrand first addressed the city’s fresh water needs, constructing a system of aqueducts that nearly doubled the amount of water available per person per day and quadrupled the number of homes with running water. These aqueducts discharged their water in reservoirs situated within the city. Inside the city limits and opposite Parc Montsouris, Belgrand built the largest water reservoir in the world to hold the water from the River Vanne.
At the same time Belgrand began rebuilding the water distribution and sewer system under the streets. In 1852 Paris had 142 kilometers of sewers, which could carry only liquid waste. Containers of solid waste were picked up each night by people called vidangeurs, who carried it to waste dumps on the outskirts of the city. The tunnels he designed were intended to be clean, easily accessible, and substantially larger than the previous Parisian underground. Under his guidance, Paris’s sewer system expanded fourfold between 1852 and 1869.
Haussmann and Belgrand built new sewer tunnels under each sidewalk of the new boulevards. The sewers were designed to be large enough to evacuate rain water immediately; the large amount of water used to wash the city streets; waste water from both industries and individual households; and water that collected in basements when the level of the Seine was high. Before Haussmann, the sewer tunnels (featured in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) were cramped and narrow, just 1.8 meters high and 75 to 80 centimeters wide. The new tunnels were 2.3 meters high and 1.3 meters wide, large enough for men to work standing up. These flowed into larger tunnels that carried the waste water to even larger collector tunnels, which were 4.4 meters high and 5.6 meters wide. A channel down the center of the tunnel carried away the waste water, with sidewalks on either side for the égoutiers, or sewer workers. Specially designed wagons and boats moved on rails up and down the channels, cleaning them. Belgrand proudly invited tourists to visit his sewers and ride in the boats under the streets of the city.
The underground labyrinth built by Haussmann also provided gas for heat and for lights to illuminate Paris. At the beginning of the Second Empire, gas was provided by six different private companies. Haussmann forced them to consolidate into a single company, the Compagnie parisienne d’éclairage et de chauffage par le gaz, with rights to provide gas to Parisians for fifty years. Consumption of gas tripled between 1855 and 1859. In 1850 there were only 9000 gaslights in Paris; by 1867, the Paris Opera and four other major theaters alone had fifteen thousand gas lights. Almost all the new residential buildings of Paris had gaslights in the courtyards and stairways; the monuments and public buildings of Paris, the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, and the squares, boulevards and streets were illuminated at night by gaslights. For the first time, Paris was the City of Light.
The Baron Haussmann’s transformations to Paris improved the quality of life in the capital. Disease epidemics (save tuberculosis) ceased, traffic circulation improved and new buildings were better-built and more functional than their predecessors.
The Second Empire renovations left such a mark on Paris’ urban history that all subsequent trends and influences were forced to refer to, adapt to, or reject, or to reuse some of its elements. By intervening only once in Paris’s ancient districts, pockets of insalubrity remained which explain the resurgence of both hygienic ideals and radicalness of some planners of the 20th century.
The end of “pure Haussmannism” can be traced to urban legislation of 1882 and 1884 that ended the uniformity of the classical street, by permitting staggered facades and the first creativity for roof-level architecture; the latter would develop greatly after restrictions were further liberalized by a 1902 law. All the same, this period was merely “post-Haussmann”, rejecting only the austerity of the Napoleon-era architecture, without questioning the urban planning itself.
A century after Napoleon III’s reign, new housing needs and the rise of a new voluntarist Fifth Republic began a new era of Parisian urbanism. The new era rejected Haussmannian ideas as a whole to embrace those represented by architects such as Le Corbusier in abandoning unbroken street-side facades, limitations of building size and dimension, and even closing the street itself to automobiles with the creation of separated, car-free spaces between the buildings for pedestrians. This new model was quickly brought into question by the 1970s, a period featuring a reemphasis of the Haussmann heritage: a new promotion of the multifunctional street was accompanied by limitations of the building model and, in certain quarters, by an attempt to rediscover the architectural homogeneity of the Second Empire street-block.
The Parisian public now has a generally positive opinion of the Haussmann legacy, to the extent that certain suburban towns, for example Issy-les-Moulineaux and Puteaux, have built new quarters that even by their name claim “Quartier Haussmannien”, the Haussmanian heritage.
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