Baron Haussmann
Overview
 
Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann (ʒɔʁʒ øʒɛn pʁə.mje ba.ʁɔ̃ os.man, 27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891), was a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris
Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's Renovation of Paris, or the Haussmann Plan, was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870...

. He was born in Paris to a Protestant merchant from Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and the daughter of the General Georg Friedrich Dentzel from Dürckheim, who served mainly for Napoleon III.
The son of Nicolas Valentin Haussmann, a merchant, was born in Paris and educated at the College Henri IV and subsequently studied law, attending concurrently the classes at the Paris conservatory of music, for he was a good musician.
Encyclopedia
Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann (ʒɔʁʒ øʒɛn pʁə.mje ba.ʁɔ̃ os.man, 27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891), was a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris
Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's Renovation of Paris, or the Haussmann Plan, was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870...

. He was born in Paris to a Protestant merchant from Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and the daughter of the General Georg Friedrich Dentzel from Dürckheim, who served mainly for Napoleon III.

Origins

The son of Nicolas Valentin Haussmann, a merchant, was born in Paris and educated at the College Henri IV and subsequently studied law, attending concurrently the classes at the Paris conservatory of music, for he was a good musician. He became sous-préfet of Nérac
Nérac
Nérac is a commune in the Lot-et-Garonne department in south-western France.-External links:*...

 in 1830, and advanced rapidly in the civil service until in 1853 he was chosen by Persigny
Jean Gilbert Victor Fialin, duc de Persigny
Jean Gilbert Victor Fialin, duc de Persigny was a French statesman of the Second French Empire.Fialin was born at Saint-Germain-Lespinasse , the son of a receiver of taxes, and was educated at Limoges. He entered the cavalry school at Saumur in 1826, becoming maréchal des logis in the 4th Hussars...

 to be prefect of the Seine
Seine (département)
Seine was a département of France encompassing Paris and its immediate suburbs. Its préfecture was Paris and its official number was 75. The Seine département was abolished in 1968 and its territory divided among four new départements....

 département in succession to Jean Jacques Berger, who hesitated to incur the vast expenses of the imperial schemes for the embellishment of Paris. Haussmann would remain in this post until 1870.

Rebuilding of Paris

Commissioned by Napoleon III to instigate a program of planning reforms in Paris, Haussmann laid out the Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
The Bois de Boulogne is a park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine...

, and made extensive improvements in the smaller parks. The gardens of the Luxembourg Palace
Luxembourg Palace
The Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden , is the seat of the French Senate.The formal Luxembourg Garden presents a 25-hectare green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and provided with large basins of water where children sail model...

 (Luxembourg Garden) were cut down to allow the formation of new streets, and the Boulevard de Sebastopol
Boulevard de Sébastopol
The Boulevard de Sébastopol is an important roadway in Paris, France, which serves to delimit the 1st and 2nd arrondissements from the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of the city....

, the southern half of which is now the Boulevard St Michel, was driven through a populous district. Additional, sweeping changes made wide "boulevard
Boulevard
A Boulevard is type of road, usually a wide, multi-lane arterial thoroughfare, divided with a median down the centre, and roadways along each side designed as slow travel and parking lanes and for bicycle and pedestrian usage, often with an above-average quality of landscaping and scenery...

s" of hitherto narrow streets. A new water supply, a gigantic system of sewers
Paris Sewer Museum
The Parisian sewer system dates back to the year 1370 when the first underground system was constructed under "rue Montmartre". Since then, consecutive French governments have enlarged the system to cover the city's population.-History:...

, new bridges, the opera house
Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...

, and other public buildings, the inclusion of outlying districts – these were among the new prefect's achievements, accomplished by the aid of a bold handling of the public funds which called forth Jules Ferry's indictment, Les Comptes fantastiques de Haussmann, in 1867 (a play on words between contes, stories or tales – as in Les contes d'Hoffmann
Les contes d'Hoffmann
Les contes d'Hoffmann is an opéra by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on short stories by E. T. A...

or Tales of Hoffmann, and comptes, accounts.)

A loan of 250 million francs was sanctioned for the city of Paris in 1865, and another of 260 million in 1869. These sums represented only part of his financial schemes, which led to his dismissal by the government of Émile Ollivier
Émile Ollivier
Olivier Émile Ollivier was a French statesman. Although a republican, he served as a cabinet minister under Emperor Napoleon III and led the process of turning his regime into a "liberal Empire".-Early life and career:Émile Ollivier was born in Marseille...

. After the fall of the Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 he spent about a year abroad, but he re-entered public life in 1877, when he became Bonapartist
Bonapartist
In French political history, Bonapartism has two meanings. In a strict sense, this term refers to people who aimed to restore the French Empire under the House of Bonaparte, the Corsican family of Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew Louis...

 deputy for Ajaccio
Ajaccio
Ajaccio , is a commune on the island of Corsica in France. It is the capital and largest city of the region of Corsica and the prefecture of the department of Corse-du-Sud....

.

His work destroyed much of the medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 city. It is estimated that he transformed 60% of Paris's buildings. Notably, he redesigned the Place de l'Étoile
Place de l'Étoile
The Place Charles de Gaulle, , historically known as the Place de l'Étoile , is a large road junction in Paris, France, the meeting point of twelve straight avenues including the Champs-Élysées which continues to the east. It was renamed in 1970 following the death of General and President Charles...

, and created long avenues giving perspectives on monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
-The design:The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin , in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture . Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire...

 and the Opera Garnier
Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...

.

"Baron Haussmann"

For his work, Haussmann received many honours (see below), he was however never formally ennobled. In later life he nonetheless became known as Baron Haussmann. According to his memoirs, Haussmann's use of the title baron was based on his elevation to the Senate and to an 1857 decree of the emperor's that gave Senate members the title of baron; his memoirs further stated that he joked that he might consider the title aqueduc, (a pun on the French words for 'duke' and 'aqueduct') but that no such title existed. However, the Dictionary of the Second Empire states that Haussmann used the title of baron casually, out of pride as the only male descendant of his maternal grandfather, Georges Frédéric, Baron Dentzel, a general under the first Napoleon. This use of baron, however, was not official, and he remained, legally, merely Monsieur Haussmann.

Honours

Haussmann had been made senator
French Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament of France, presided over by a president.The Senate enjoys less prominence than the lower house, the directly elected National Assembly; debates in the Senate tend to be less tense and generally enjoy less media coverage.-History:France's first...

 in 1857, member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1867, and grand cross of the Legion of Honour
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 in 1862. His name is preserved in the Boulevard Haussmann
Boulevard Haussmann
Boulevard Haussmann, running from the 8th to the 9th arrondissement,is one of the wide tree-lined boulevards created in Paris during the Second French Empire by Baron Haussmann, with enthusiastic support from Napoleon III....

. His later years were occupied with the preparation of his Mémoires (3 vols., 1890–1893).

Rebuilding of Paris

Between the Revolution of 1789 and Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's Renovation of Paris, or the Haussmann Plan, was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870...

 in the 1860s, ideals changed from those of a politically motivated city to those of an economically and socially centered city. Modern technology such as railroads and gas lamps were conveniences which the rising bourgeoisie could enjoy in their leisurely lifestyle. New spaces that were created during the renovation encouraged the bourgeoisie to flaunt their new wealth, creating a booming economy. All of these examples of the changes occurring in Paris during this period can be seen in representations of the city. There are two views of Baron Haussmann: One depicts him as the man who destroyed Old Paris, and the other as the man who created New Paris.

Georges-Eugène Haussmann was hired by Napoleon III on 22 June 1852 to "modernize" Paris. He hoped in hiring Haussmann that Paris could be moulded into a city with safer streets, better housing, more sanitary, hospitable, shopper-friendly communities, better traffic flow, and, last but not least, streets too broad for rebels to build barricade
Barricade
Barricade, from the French barrique , is any object or structure that creates a barrier or obstacle to control, block passage or force the flow of traffic in the desired direction...

s across them and where coherent battalions and artillery could circulate easily if need be. He created broad avenues linked to the main train-stations so army troops from the provinces could be operative in a short amount of time (for example, the boulevard de Strasbourg near Gare de l'Est
Gare de l'Est
is one of the six large SNCF termini in Paris. It is in the 10th arrondissement, not far from the Gare du Nord, facing the Boulevard de Strasbourg, part of the north-south axis of Paris created by Baron Haussmann...

 and Gare du Nord
Gare du Nord
Paris Nord is one of the six large terminus railway stations of the SNCF mainline network for Paris, France. It offers connections with several urban transportation lines, including Paris Métro and RER...

). This work achieved during the Second Empire is one of the causes of the quick repression of the 1871 Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

: since the 1848 revolution, Adolphe Thiers had become obsessed with crushing out the next foreseeable Parisian rebellion. Thus, he planned to leave the city and retreat, in order to better take it back with more military forces.

Haussmann's design of streets and avenues, combined with the new importance given to trains, made this plan more than successful, and Adolphe easily crushed the Communards
Communards
The Communards were members and supporters of the short-lived 1871 Paris Commune formed in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War and France's defeat....

. Haussmann accomplished much of this by tearing up many of the old, twisting streets and rundown apartment houses, and replacing them with the wide, tree-lined boulevards and expansive gardens for which Paris is famous today. Other elements of Haussman's plan included uniform building heights, grand boulevards, and anchoring elements including the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Opera House.

Haussmann's plan for Paris inspired some of the most important architectural movements including the City Beautiful Movement
City Beautiful movement
The City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy concerning North American architecture and urban planning that flourished during the 1890s and 1900s with the intent of using beautification and monumental grandeur in cities. The movement, which was originally associated mainly with Chicago,...

 in the United States. In fact, renowned American architect Daniel Burnham
Daniel Burnham
Daniel Hudson Burnham, FAIA was an American architect and urban planner. He was the Director of Works for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He took a leading role in the creation of master plans for the development of a number of cities, including Chicago and downtown Washington DC...

 borrowed liberally from Haussmann's plan and even incorporated the diagonal street designs in his 1909 Plan of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. Cities like London and Moscow also have Haussmann influences in their city plans.

Historian Shelley Rice, in her book Parisian Views writes that "most Parisians during [the first half of the nineteenth century] perceived [the streets] as dirty, crowded, and unhealthy . . . Covered with mud and makeshift shanties, damp and fetid, filled with the signs of poverty as well as the signs of garbage and waste left there by the inadequate and faulty sewer system . . ." (p. 9). For these people, Haussmann was performing a much needed service to the city and to France.

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! One would think that one was in a subterranean city, that's how heavy is the atmosphere, how profound is the darkness!
—the Vicomte de Launay, 1838 (as quoted in Rice, p. 9)


It sh be noted, however, that the people who suffered most from the medieval living conditions were often exiled to the suburbs by Haussmannization, since slums were cleared away and replaced with bourgeois apartments.

Criticism of his work

Haussmann's plans, with their radical redevelopment, coincided with the 1860s – a time of intense political activity in Paris. Many Parisians were troubled by the destruction of "old roots". Historian Robert Herbert
Robert Herbert
Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert, GCB , was the first Premier of Queensland, Australia.-Early years:Born in Brighton, England, Herbert was the only son of the Hon. Algernon Herbert, a younger son of the first Earl of Carnarvon. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford...

 says that "the impressionist movement depicted this loss of connection in such paintings as Manet
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism....

's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère , painted and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882, was the last major work by French painter Édouard Manet. It depicts a scene in the Folies Bergère nightclub in Paris...

." The subject of the painting is talking to a man, seen in the mirror behind her, but seems disengaged. According to Herbert, this is a symptom of living in Paris at this time: the citizens became detached from one another. "The continuous destruction of physical Paris led to a destruction of social Paris as well." The poet Charles Baudelaire witnessed these changes and wrote the poem "The Swan
Les Fleurs du mal
Les Fleurs du mal is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. First published in 1857 , it was important in the symbolist and modernist movements...

" in response. The poem is a lament for, and critique of the destruction of the medieval city in the name of "progress":

Old Paris is gone (no human heart

changes half so fast as a city's face)…

There used to be a poultry market here,

and one cold morning… I saw


a swan that had broken out of its cage,

webbed feet clumsy on the cobblestones,

white fathers dragging in the uneven ruts,

and obstinately pecking at the drains…


Paris changes . . . but in sadness like mine

nothing stirs—new buildings, old

neighbourhoods turn to allegory,

and memories weigh more than stone.


Haussmann was also criticized for the great cost of his project. Napoléon III fired Haussmann on 5 January 1870 in order to improve his own flagging popularity. And Haussmann was a favorite target of the Situationist's critique; besides pointing out the repressive aims that were achieved by Haussmann's urbanism, Guy Debord
Guy Debord
Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, member of the Letterist International, founder of a Letterist faction, and founding member of the Situationist International . He was also briefly a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.-Early Life:Guy Debord was born in Paris in 1931...

 and his friends (who considered urbanism
Urbanism
Broadly, urbanism is a focus on cities and urban areas, their geography, economies, politics, social characteristics, as well as the effects on, and caused by, the built environment.-Philosophy:...

 to be a "state science" or inherently "capitalist" science) also underlined that he nicely separated leisure
Leisure
Leisure, or free time, is time spent away from business, work, and domestic chores. It is also the periods of time before or after necessary activities such as eating, sleeping and, where it is compulsory, education....

 areas from work places, thus announcing modern functionalism
Functionalism (architecture)
Functionalism, in architecture, is the principle that architects should design a building based on the purpose of that building. This statement is less self-evident than it first appears, and is a matter of confusion and controversy within the profession, particularly in regard to modern...

, as illustrated by Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

's precise zone tripartition (one zone for circulation, another one for accommodations, and the last one for labour).

The changes wrought by Haussmann on the streetscape of Paris were documented in the film, Paris: Living Space, featuring Edmund N. Bacon and based on sections of his book Design of Cities
Design of Cities
Design of Cities, first published in 1967 by Thames & Hudson, is an illustrated account of the development of urban form, written by Edmund Bacon , who was the Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission from 1949 to 1970...

.

See also

  • Ildefons Cerdà
    Ildefons Cerdà
    Ildefons Cerdà i Sunyer was the progressive Catalan Spanish urban planner who designed the 19th-century "extension" of Barcelona called the Eixample.-Biography:...

     who designed the 19th-century extension of Barcelona
    Barcelona
    Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

     called the Eixample
    Eixample
    The Eixample is a district of Barcelona between the old city and what were once surrounding small towns , constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries....

     neighborhoods.
  • List of urban planners
  • Situationist International
  • Walter Benjamin
    Walter Benjamin
    Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

    's The Arcades Project
  • Robert Moses
    Robert Moses
    Robert Moses was the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, New York. As the shaper of a modern city, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of...

    , New York planner with whom Haussmann is occasionally compared.
  • David Harvey (social theorist and geographer), Paris Capital of Modernity, especially the introduction and prologue.

External links

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