Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paris: Late 19th century urban change

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares
Urban change / urban renewal in 19th Century Paris. By K.K.W

"Any Major changes to a city's landscape / layout reflects either the concious or subconcious of the populace, or predates it. This is usually through the actions of one or more persons in conjuction with those in power (its educated and or dominant classes). And although its generally for the good of the city, its people and greater civic harmony, as an equation its never balanced."  (Aleksandar Ares)

Larmartine in front of the Town Hall of Paris
rejects the red flag on 25 February 1848.
By Henri Felix Emmanuel - image courtesy of Wikipedia.
From the late 19th to the mid 20th century the major factors of urban change has been war, technology, social revolution & class struggle. All of which are influenced by politics and economic factors. One of the two main epicenters of these changes are France and Germany via Baron Haussmann & Walter Gropius.  Both would leave its  mark on history and influence many other cities throughout the world. 

The industrial revolution changed the methods of production, and indirectly caused the demise of most other opposite means of production in textiles, printing, metal, etc. This would cause huge population shifts from rural to urban centers. 

 Louis Philippe I (the bourgeois Monarch)

In France this would eventually lead to social imbalances between the working class, bourgeoisie [petite, financial & industrial], the nobility & aristocracy due to economic recession and lack of proper participation in government. This was still old Paris;  narrow / irregular,  poorly-lit streets, with no sidewalks for the most part, and an out-dated sewer system. Most of the areas were over-crowed, quite dirty and dangerous. Ever since the revolution of 1789 the lower classes had a taste for reform & revolt quickly realizing how to build defenses in the streets to hold off the soldiers (who were use to fighting in open fields not urban environments).

At the time Louis Philippe I (the bourgeois Monarch) sat at the head of a moderately liberal state, controlled mainly by educated elite's (the July Monarchy ), starting in 1830. He was quite the businessman and had, before becoming head of state, become one of the richest men in France. As he thought of himself as a small businessman (petite bourgeoisie), he and his government did not look favorable on big business. Though, he did support the bankers, stock exchange magnates, railroad barons, owners of coal & iron ore mines and large landowners. 

Portion of a map of Paris before  major changes in 1860.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Louis Philippe was, for the most part indifferent to the needs of society. By 1846 the country was griped by a financial crisis and bad harvests, with the following year seeing a depression. At this point  estimates show that  1/3 of Paris was on the dole (a form of welfare). Those in business who felt outside the favor the the new regime began to side with the middle & working class. Meanwhile campaign & political banquets (intended to circumvent the government restrictions on political gathering & meetings - which were outlawed) were happening to raise funds for opposition against the current regime.

However,  by February 1848 all of these were outlawed, which caused a large amount of the people to revolt. Feb 22nd saw crowds of Parisians flooding out into the streets. Paris was soon a barricaded city via omnibuses  and thousands of felled trees, fires were set as angry citizens began converging on the Royal Palace. This would lead to the establishment of the Second Republic, started by the liberal opposition on Feb 26th 1848. The governments  2 main problems were unemployment and universal male suffrage (the right to vote). The creation of the National Workshops  did help, employing 100,000 and on March 2nd 1848 universal male suffrage was enacted.

Job seekers from all over France came to Paris for work in the National Workshops, causing the population to balloon. In order to help  pay for this the government placed new taxes on land. This would alienate the land-classes from the provincial government,  further worsening the situation. And as the taxes were widely ignored in the rural areas, the government became financially strapped for cash. 

Georges Eugene Haussmann
(A.K.A Baron Haussmann)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Mean while the conservative element of french society were quickly organizing against the government, around the need for order (earning them the name "The party of order").  And having become the dominant member of the government, they closed the National workshops on June 21 1848 - leading to another armed revolt (The June uprising) by the working class (abut 170,000) in Paris. It took a force of 120,000  soldiers lead by General Louis Eugene Cavaignac 2 days to suppress the uprising, given that the rebels knew how to blockade and use the narrow irregular streets to their advantage. Despite the fact that during the Feb uprisings the petite bourgeoisie and working class were united, the bourgeoisie politicians abandoned them. The "Party of order" quickly moved to consolidate the reaction forces in the government and elect Cavaignac as head of the french state (June 28 1848). This of course, until elections were held on Dec 10th 1848, where Louis Napoleon Bonaparte  was elected (by popular vote of the peasantry).

By  Dec 2nd 1851 Louis Napoleon Bonaparte would, with popular support and that of the army, seize dictatorial powers and be crowned Napoleon III on Dec 2 1852. It was during this time he took strong measures to modernize Paris, based on what he had seen in London during his exile there in 1840. A major aspect the design decisions were taken in order to prevent future uprisings, from taking advantage of the small medieval streets to form barricades. A modern sewage system would be built to improve health, new housing with larger apartments for the masses, green parks all over the city, with large thoroughfares and broad avenues. Most, if not all of this was directed by Baron Haussmann, a man who would be both loved and hated much like his emperor.  
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte
(Napoleon III)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The main lines created or transformed
between 1850 & 1870 in the centre of Paris.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The original 12 Arrondissements of Paris.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The buildings, along with the avenues and thoroughfares would be of a uniformed design and look  - aspects that would become common to most other major cities in 20th & 21st century ("...geometry and graphic design play a more important role than architecture itself..." Baron Haussmann). A fusion of residential buildings with retail space on the ground floors would become the norm, features that would become common  around the world. What started as a need for serious urban change and renewal, actually reflected the concious or subconcious of the populace (though perhaps not the poor and those who were evicted from sections marked for demolition). The renovations of the city-centre provoked a major rise in rents, forcing the poorer families towards Paris' outer arrondissements. 
Paris 1889. Image courtesy of Wikipedia 
Originally there were only 12 arrondissements before 1860, these were rearranged with 8 more added. No eastern neighborhood in Paris benefited from the renovations the way the western neighborhoods did. The poor became concentrated in arrondissements neglected by the renovations.  Prior to these renovations one could find bourgeoisie on the second floor, civil servants and employees on the third & fourth,  low-wage employees on the fifth, house staff, students and the poor under the eaves (this of course varied from quarter to quarter). This feature would disappear in its majority after the renovations. If one thinks about, a scattered community will find it harder to unite and so will pose less a threat to the established order. To Parisians and the French in general working-class people were still the dangerous classes, and the zonage that was established still dominates today: from the centre to the west, offices and wealthy neighborhoods; from the east and outer rim, poorer housing and industry.

Despite negative outcome of Haussmann's renovations to Paris
it did bring about many great things; 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, that all subsequent trends and influences were forced to refer to, adapt to, or reject it.      

The Arrondissements after the major
urban changes of 1860, 8 added to the original 12.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia. 

View from over the 7th Arrondissement.
Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Boulevard Haussmann.
Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Paris @ night from the top of the Tour Montparnasse.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
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