The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

 

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Wide boulevards flanked by trees, stately buildings, and wrought iron balconies.  The signature buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments. Who does not dream of a Parisian apartment along one of the Parisian boulevards with a boulangerie at the corner of the street?
The monumental beauty of Paris, as we know now, has been largely the work of Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. On behalf of Napoleon III, this city architect designed a completely new street plan in the 19th century. In just 17 years, Paris was transformed from a medieval city into a modern capital.

Today I will share a short history about the Haussmann apartments.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Although the plans were controversial, Haussmann’s vision contributed undoubtedly to Paris’s contemporary charm. He invented a mix of winding streets. How big the vision of Haussmann was, is perhaps still the most visible on Place Charles de Gaulle nowadays.  In the middle of the square you see the Arc de Triomphe. From here, 12 candle-lined boulevards enter the city. The form explains why the square is still known under the old name ‘Place de l’Étoile’: Square of the Star.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Who was George Eugène Haussmann?

Georges Eugène Haussmann was a French state man (1809-1891) who made career during the Second Empire. He collapsed since 1848 on the side of Napoleon III. In 1853 he was appointed as the prefect of the department of Seine, with the task of ‘giving Paris air to a complete smithing and decorating’. He would wear that function for seventeen years and was appointed a Senator and elevated to Baron in 1857, a title granted to all Senate representatives. In 1867 he was also elected as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Source: Wikipedia)

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Georges-Eugène Haussmann @Wikipedia

Problems in Paris

In the nineteenth century, Paris had a bad reputation. Paris was dirty, dark and overpopulated. The neighborhoods between the Louvre and the Hotel de Ville had a population density of one person per three square meters. Since the Middle Ages, the street plan has hardly changed. But while the infrastructure of the city barely changed, the population grew explosively. In 1801 there were about 500,000 people in the city, in 1851 there were already 1,053,000. During these days, there were a lot of epidemics in the city.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

The renewal of Paris

Chaos, bad hygiene, and insecurity, that was Paris in those days. After the French revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte made a start to rebuild the city. He started with Rue de Rivoli, from Place de la Concorde, along the north side of the Louvre. However, he did not go beyond the Louvre.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Napoleon III instructed Haussmann to bring air and light to the center of the city, to unify the different neighborhoods with boulevards, and to make the city more beautiful. The avenue de l’Opéra, created by Haussmann, painted by Camille Pissarro (1898). @Wikipedia

Plans under Napoleon III

The situation was untenable. Napoleon Bonaparte cousin was elected as a president after the 1848 revolution. He instructed to improve the situation in the city and started to finish his uncle’s work. He extended the Rue de Rivoli but the work went very slowly. His plans were a part of the city council’s unwillingness. After proclaiming himself an emperor, Napoleon III set aside the Paris prefect and looked for someone who shared his vision of the future of Paris.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

Baron Haussmann

Emperor Napoleon III found a member of baron Haussmann and appointed him as a substitute for the former prefect. Haussmann had to air the city, connect the different parts, and finally, the city became more beautiful. Under imperial supervision, Haussmann had much more freedom than his predecessors and he went on to work. It became one of the largest urban renewal projects seen in the world!

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

The boulevards and streets built by Napoléon III and Haussmann during the Second Empire are shown in red. They also built the Bois de Boulogne park (green area on the left), the Bois de Vincennes park containing a zoo (green area on the right), the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, the Parc Montsouris and dozens of smaller parks and squares. @Wikipedia

The plans

Haussmann’s plan influenced the entire city. The narrow streets with the tall narrow houses had to be made for large apartment blocks in a uniform style. He designed a completely new street plan. The narrow winding streets and alleys changed into wide, straight avenues and boulevards. New streets were constructed according to geometric patterns and connected to the city’s main buildings and squares. Trees were planted along the boulevards. Haussmann introduced a completely new sewage system under the new boulevards. In 1927, construction workers finally finished the Boulevard de Haussmann.

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

The Rue de Rivoli, shown here in 1855, was the first boulevard built by Haussmann, and it served as the model for the others. @Wikipedia

Book Tip

Do you want to read more about this subject? Tatiana de Rosnay wrote a story about this Parisian transformation “The House I loved”

The Signature Buildings of Paris: Haussmann Apartments

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Darina Nykl

8 Comments

    • dank je wel Josephine! In het boek van Tatiana de Rosnay kun je lezen hoe het voor de bevolking was. Best wel triest kan ik zeggen. En heftig..

  1. Such an interesting post! I have just come back from Paris and I visited Blvd Haussman and the Rue de Rivoli and the buildings are so beautiful!
    My daughter is flat hunting in Paris at the moment and a Haussman apartment would be the dream!
    Julia x
    http://www.thevelvetrunway.com/

  2. Je hebt er zeker werk van gemaakt!! Parijs is erg karakteristiek & heeft uitstraling. Tuurlijk zou ik in een Parijs appartementje willen!!

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