Baron Haussmann and the modernization of Paris

Exhibit by: Estevan Alvarado


Baron Haussmann

Portrait of Georges-Eugène Haussmann

Georges-Eugène Haussmann

3
Emperor Louis Napoleon III on the left presenting a letter to Haussmann on the right.

Haussmann lived from lived 27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891. The son of a well off merchant family, Haussmann attended a university to study law and music. After his graduation he was able to rapidly advance through the civil service which now promoted based on ability and was no longer reserved for the nobility as it was before the French revolution.

Haussmann’s big break was when he came to the attention of emperor Louis Napoleon III in 1853. At this time Napoleon III was looking  for for someone to undertake his grand vision to rebuild Paris as a modern capital that was worthy of France. Napoleon found an eager ally in Haussmann and appointed him the prefect of Seine (Of which Paris is a part) in 1853. The two made an efficient team and worked in close collaboration on the project. Haussmann was unswervingly loyal to Napoleon, and Napoleon protected Haussmann from his adversaries.

While Haussmann proved to be very enthusiastic and a capable administrator, it is important to note that he never actually had any experience as an architect or an urban planner, which would result in some of his plans not working out quite as intended. It is also interesting to point out that while he was commonly referred to as Baron Haussmann he was never officially a Baron –  it was more of an assumed nickname.

Reasons for Modernization

11
An example of the architecture in pre-Haussmann Paris, typified by narrow crooked streets.

From 1800 to 1850 the population of Paris doubled to become over one million. This rapid growth put great strain on Paris’s infrastructure and resulted in a massive overcrowding problem. In 1850 the majority of Paris was still the medieval style of unplanned  narrow winding streets as seen in the picture to the right. These streets featured open gutters for carrying sewage that were breeding grounds for disease. These unplanned streets were narrow, often had confusing layouts and were not efficient for commerce and traffic.

There were also political reasons for the renovation. From 1790 to 1850 France had transitioned between Royal dynasties, Republics, and Empires six different times! At this point revolutions seemed to be the fate of every French Government a fate that Emperor Napoleon III was keen to avoid. Paris was the focal point of revolutionary movements and by this point Parisian barricades had become synonymous with revolution. Napoleon III realized that the narrow streets of Paris were easy to barricade and the winding disorganized layout made it difficult for troops to quell rebellions quickly. Therefore it was hoped that by with the new layout providing quick access for troops and broad streets discouraging barricades, future revolutions could be avoided.

Napoleon had a great interest in modern technology, architecture and city planing. He became inspired to remake Paris into a modern city after seeing London which had been rebuilt in a massive project  after the great fire in 1666. Napoleon was determined to remake Paris into a great modern capital worthy of the empire.

The plan

Haussmann embarked on on a radical project of urban design to rebuild Paris as a modern city. The project included…

  • A greatly expanded sewer system.

  • The construction of wide boulevards.

  • Gas lighting for the streets.

  • The formulation of public building regulations.

  • Theconstruction of monuments.

  • An updated and uniform facade for the city’s buildings.

  • A reorganized and symmetrical road system.

  • The construction of new parks.

  • The division of Paris into arrondissements (Districts) and the expansion of the city’s limits.

The extent of the construction can be seen in these pictures of the Avenue de L’opera both during the construction and in modern times

13
A picture taken during the construction of the Avenue de L’opera.

The above photo taken during the construction of the Avenue de L’opera is an example of the demolition that accompanied the widening of the boulevards. The buildings in the foreground will all be removed to make room for a wide boulevard leading to the Opera seen in the background.  The photo  bellow shows the modern  Avenue de L’opera from the same perspective. Note the buildings on the side are typical of the neoclassical style employed during the project.

111
The modern Avenue de L’opera

While both Napoleon III and Haussmann wanted to modernize Paris at the same time they were adherents of a more classical style of architecture. This led to the projects buildings being constructed in a neoclassical style. The neoclassical style was a unifying theme used in everything from the facades of apartment buildings to the construction of major Parisian landmarks. One such landmark constructed during this time was the Palais Garnier opera seen below. There is a story that Napoleon III, the Empress, and Haussmann were inspecting the building when the skeptical Empress asked the architect: “But Monsier, what style is it?” To which he replied “Why Madame the style is Napoleon III!”.  The building does indeed typify the very opulent neoclassical style so loved by  Napoleon III which can be observed in the picture of the Opera’s interior bellow.

5
Interior of Palais Garnier

Roads

8
An example of the symmetrical layout employed by Haussmann. The main boulevards are connected by smaller diagonal streets.

One of the most important aspects of the plan was the renovation of Paris’s main roads. Haussmann brought symmetry to the city.  The new roads were laid out in a grid running east to west, north to south with diagonal connections radiating out. Perhaps most importantly the wide avenues would be hard to barricade and allow fast access for troops while also improving commerce. The construction of new roads and the widening of streets would require the expropriation and demolition of many buildings.

9
An example of the wide tree lined boulevards constructed by Haussmann.

The change in the layout of Paris’s streets can be observed from the maps below. The first map is of Pre-Haussmann Paris. While there are some main streets running more or less straight through the city, for the most part it is chaotic and unplanned. The second shows the much more orderly layout of modern Paris, the streets outlined in red are the main boulevards constructed by Haussmann.

4

Map of Paris streets
Modern Paris, the main boulevards added by Haussmann are outlined in red.

Sewers

The Pre-Haussmann sewers had been built by a man named Bruneseau in 1805. Bruneseau’s underground system intermixed sanitary and unsanitary water. During the 1800’s Germ theory came to replace the earlier Miasma theory of disease, and brought new ideas about sanitation and disease prevention. Haussmann engineered a new underground sewer system that separated drinking water and waste. His sewer used iron piping and new digging techniques made possible by the Industrial Revolution. By 1878 the sewer system had expanded to 360 miles. The new sewers also provided a source of tourism. Almost immediately after their completion tours of the Parisian sewers became a popular attraction.

sewer-final
A engraving of a tour of the Parisian sewer in 1867.

Facade of Buildings

2
A building in the typical neoclassical style employed by Haussmann.

Haussmann and Napoleon III wanted the buildings of Paris to share a unifying theme. The city was rebuilt with a neoclassical facade that has  is still typical of Paris today. The widening of the streets allowed for extra height to be added to the buildings increasing living space. Typically five stories these buildings would feature elaborate balconies. In contrast to today’s buildings the cheaper apartments would be high up while the more desirable rooms were on the lower floors, this is primarily due to the absence of elevators. The ground  floor would usually be reserved for shops or other businesses. In many ways these buildings were precursors to the prefabricated buildings of today. While the outside facade is fancy, Haussmann employed cost saving measures beneath the exterior, and since all the buildings were made in the same style they were able to be built much more cheaply.

An idea of the atmosphere in remodled Paris can be observed from the picture bellow Paris Street Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

1
Gustave Caillebotte-Paris Street;Rainy Day 1877
12
A french cartoon depicting Haussmann as a beaver.

The scene painted here is very different from the crowded narrow streets of pre-Haussmann Paris. The buildings are in the neoclasical style and provide a sense of uniformity and order. It also depicts the new Paris as a city for the prosperous bourgeoisie as they are seen here strolling about the wide boulevard with plenty of affluent ground level stores to window shop from. Also of note is the new gas lamp in the center of the painting, enabling the citizens to walk the street at night.

End of career & legacy

Haussmann essentially remade Paris into what what it is today, but he is not without controversy. There was and still is debate whether he was the man who
destroyed old Paris, or the man who created new Paris.  The project destroyed some 20,000 buildings and erected 30,000 new ones. In all an estimated 60% of Paris’s buildings were rebuilt or transformed. The project was required a huge expenditure and was massively over budget  at over 2.5 billion francs. Haussmann’s career ended January 5, 1870, when Napoleon III used him as a scapegoat for the projects budget. Many Parisians had a negative outlook on the project citing concerns over never ending construction, debt, and distrust in initial budgeting. The large scope of the project led to the terms “Haussmannomania” & “Haussmannization” entering the Parisian vernacular to describe the construction craze. While there were many negative aspects to the project it did lead to some marked improvements in Paris, disease lessoned, trafic improved, and the quality of life for Parisians improved. Haussmann would die of Tuberculosis in 1891.

Sources

David Van  Zanten. Building Paris. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Jordan, David P. Baron Haussmann and Modern Paris. American Scholar, Vol. 61 Issue 1, p99, 1992

Jordan, David P. Haussmann and Haussmannisation : The Legacy for Paris. French Historical Studies. Winter2004, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p87-113. 27p.

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/architecture/Haussmanns-Architectural-Paris.html

Baron Haussmann

and the modernization of Paris

Baron Haussmann

Portrait of Georges-Eugène Haussmann

Georges-Eugène Haussmann

3

Emperor Louis Napoleon III on the left presenting a letter to Haussmann on the right.

Haussmann lived from lived 27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891. The son of a well off merchant family, Haussmann attended a university to study law and music. After his graduation he was able to rapidly advance through the civil service which now promoted based on ability and was no longer reserved for the nobility as it was before the French revolution.

Haussmann’s big break was when he came to the attention of emperor Louis Napoleon III in 1853. At this time Napoleon III was looking  for for someone to undertake his grand vision to rebuild Paris as a modern capital that was worthy of France. Napoleon found an eager ally in Haussmann and appointed him the prefect of Seine (Of which Paris is a part) in 1853. The two made an efficient team and worked in close collaboration on the project. Haussmann was unswervingly loyal to Napoleon, and Napoleon protected Haussmann from his adversaries.

While Haussmann proved to be very enthusiastic and a capable administrator, it is important to note that he never actually had any experience as an architect or an urban planner, which would result in some of his plans not working out quite as intended. It is also interesting to point out that while he was commonly referred to as Baron Haussmann he was never officially a Baron –  it was more of an assumed nickname.

Reasons for Modernization

11

An example of the architecture in pre-Haussmann Paris, typified by narrow crooked streets.

From 1800 to 1850 the population of Paris doubled to become over one million. This rapid growth put great strain on Paris’s infrastructure and resulted in a massive overcrowding problem. In 1850 the majority of Paris was still the medieval style of unplanned  narrow winding streets as seen in the picture to the right. These streets featured open gutters for carrying sewage that were breeding grounds for disease. These unplanned streets were narrow, often had confusing layouts and were not efficient for commerce and traffic.

There were also political reasons for the renovation. From 1790 to 1850 France had transitioned between Royal dynasties, Republics, and Empires six different times! At this point revolutions seemed to be the fate of every French Government a fate that Emperor Napoleon III was keen to avoid. Paris was the focal point of revolutionary movements and by this point Parisian barricades had become synonymous with revolution. Napoleon III realized that the narrow streets of Paris were easy to barricade and the winding disorganized layout made it difficult for troops to quell rebellions quickly. Therefore it was hoped that by with the new layout providing quick access for troops and broad streets discouraging barricades, future revolutions could be avoided.

Napoleon had a great interest in modern technology, architecture and city planing. He became inspired to remake Paris into a modern city after seeing London which had been rebuilt in a massive project  after the great fire in 1666. Napoleon was determined to remake Paris into a great modern capital worthy of the empire.

The plan

Haussmann embarked on on a radical project of urban design to rebuild Paris as a modern city. The project included…

  • A greatly expanded sewer system.

  • The construction of wide boulevards.

  • Gas lighting for the streets.

  • The formulation of public building regulations.

  • Theconstruction of monuments.

  • An updated and uniform facade for the city’s buildings.

  • A reorganized and symmetrical road system.

  • The construction of new parks.

  • The division of Paris into arrondissements (Districts) and the expansion of the city’s limits.

The extent of the construction can be seen in these pictures of the Avenue de L’opera both during the construction and in modern times

13

A picture taken during the construction of the Avenue de L’opera.

The above photo taken during the construction of the Avenue de L’opera is an example of the demolition that accompanied the widening of the boulevards. The buildings in the foreground will all be removed to make room for a wide boulevard leading to the Opera seen in the background.  The photo  bellow shows the modern  Avenue de L’opera from the same perspective. Note the buildings on the side are typical of the neoclassical style employed during the project.

111

The modern Avenue de L’opera

While both Napoleon III and Haussmann wanted to modernize Paris at the same time they were adherents of a more classical style of architecture. This led to the projects buildings being constructed in a neoclassical style. The neoclassical style was a unifying theme used in everything from the facades of apartment buildings to the construction of major Parisian landmarks. One such landmark constructed during this time was the Palais Garnier opera seen below. There is a story that Napoleon III, the Empress, and Haussmann were inspecting the building when the skeptical Empress asked the architect: “But Monsier, what style is it?” To which he replied “Why Madame the style is Napoleon III!”.  The building does indeed typify the very opulent neoclassical style so loved by  Napoleon III which can be observed in the picture of the Opera’s interior bellow.

_LKTLbNmPyt08F68RjbJL7NqPE6pblKOSjfJgsA5UDKfkaFHIe_wjWSCPdlNkp0loR-kKKYpM-YU1lgoC7so4YJlIhVT91uDw13DgFfkJ1OJisRzPH-ODaIMQMM

Construction of Palais Garnier

5

Interior of Palais Garnier

Roads

8


An example of the symmetrical layout employed by Haussmann. The main boulevards are connected by smaller diagonal streets.

One of the most important aspects of the plan was the renovation of Paris’s main roads. Haussmann brought symmetry to the city.  The new roads were laid out in a grid running east to west, north to south with diagonal connections radiating out. Perhaps most importantly the wide avenues would be hard to barricade and allow fast access for troops while also improving commerce. The construction of new roads and the widening of streets would require the expropriation and demolition of many buildings.

9

An example of the wide tree lined boulevards constructed by Haussmann.

The change in the layout of Paris’s streets can be observed from the maps below. The first map is of Pre-Haussmann Paris. While there are some main streets running more or less straight through the city, for the most part it is chaotic and unplanned. The second shows the much more orderly layout of modern Paris, the streets outlined in red are the main boulevards constructed by Haussmann.

4

Map of Paris streets

Modern Paris, the main boulevards added by Haussmann are outlined in red.

Sewers

The Pre-Haussmann sewers had been built by a man named Bruneseau in 1805. Bruneseau’s underground system intermixed sanitary and unsanitary water. During the 1800’s Germ theory came to replace the earlier Miasma theory of disease, and brought new ideas about sanitation and disease prevention. Haussmann engineered a new underground sewer system that separated drinking water and waste. His sewer used iron piping and new digging techniques made possible by the Industrial Revolution. By 1878 the sewer system had expanded to 360 miles. The new sewers also provided a source of tourism. Almost immediately after their completion tours of the Parisian sewers became a popular attraction.

sewer-final

A engraving of a tour of the Parisian sewer in 1867.

Facade of Buildings

2

A building in the typical neoclassical style employed by Haussmann.

Haussmann and Napoleon III wanted the buildings of Paris to share a unifying theme. The city was rebuilt with a neoclassical facade that has  is still typical of Paris today. The widening of the streets allowed for extra height to be added to the buildings increasing living space. Typically five stories these buildings would feature elaborate balconies. In contrast to today’s buildings the cheaper apartments would be high up while the more desirable rooms were on the lower floors, this is primarily due to the absence of elevators. The ground  floor would usually be reserved for shops or other businesses. In many ways these buildings were precursors to the prefabricated buildings of today. While the outside facade is fancy, Haussmann employed cost saving measures beneath the exterior, and since all the buildings were made in the same style they were able to be built much more cheaply.

An idea of the atmosphere in remodled Paris can be observed from the picture bellow Paris Street Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

1

Gustave Caillebotte-Paris Street;Rainy Day 1877

12

A french cartoon depicting Haussmann as a beaver.

The scene painted here is very different from the crowded narrow streets of pre-Haussmann Paris. The buildings are in the neoclasical style and provide a sense of uniformity and order. It also depicts the new Paris as a city for the prosperous bourgeoisie as they are seen here strolling about the wide boulevard with plenty of affluent ground level stores to window shop from. Also of note is the new gas lamp in the center of the painting, enabling the citizens to walk the street at night.

End of career & legacy

Haussmann essentially remade Paris into what what it is today, but he is not without controversy. There was and still is debate whether he was the man who
destroyed old Paris, or the man who created new Paris.  The project destroyed some 20,000 buildings and erected 30,000 new ones. In all an estimated 60% of Paris’s buildings were rebuilt or transformed. The project was required a huge expenditure and was massively over budget  at over 2.5 billion francs. Haussmann’s career ended January 5, 1870, when Napoleon III used him as a scapegoat for the projects budget. Many Parisians had a negative outlook on the project citing concerns over never ending construction, debt, and distrust in initial budgeting. The large scope of the project led to the terms “Haussmannomania” & “Haussmannization” entering the Parisian vernacular to describe the construction craze. While there were many negative aspects to the project it did lead to some marked improvements in Paris, disease lessoned, trafic improved, and the quality of life for Parisians improved. Haussmann would die of Tuberculosis in 1891.

Sources

David Van  Zanten. Building Paris. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Jordan, David P. Baron Haussmann and Modern Paris. American Scholar, Vol. 61 Issue 1, p99, 1992

Jordan, David P. Haussmann and Haussmannisation : The Legacy for Paris. French Historical Studies. Winter2004, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p87-113. 27p.

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/architecture/Haussmanns-Architectural-Paris.html