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September 2, 2020 Paris

The design of the city of Paris - Haussmann Plan

Paris did not always have the grand and stately look that so characterizes it today. At the beginning of the 19th century, the bourgeoisie was becoming the new political force in the country. This new social situation demanded certain objective needs, such as population growth, cleanliness and hygiene in the face of disease and epidemics, and new forms of transport in the cities, such as the use of the railroads.

In 1852, Napoleón III gave the official Haussmann the task of 'modernizing' Paris and making it safer, healthier, more hospitable and more passable. Streets were removed, old houses and buildings were demolished, and almost 60% of the city and its buildings were remodeled. The main characteristics of this remodeling of the city were the construction of large avenues and boulevards, like Champs Elysees, with extensive gardens, that have made famous the Paris of today, like the Tuileries Gardens. It unified the characteristics of the buildings such as the height and certain elements of the facades and created landmarks in the city such as the Arc de Triomphe or the Grand Palace of the Opera.

Another political advantage was the fact that it made any kind of revolt or barricade more difficult, something that with the old narrow streets was simple, but that the wide avenues not only complicated it but also facilitated the movement of troops, battalions, and even artillery through the city if necessary.

Private businesses provided the boulevards with social life when they began to fill up with cafes and stores on the first floors of the buildings. Buildings whose rents were highly elevated and whose construction required a series of architectural rules such as height, 6 floors, one house per level, and a maximum of 20 meters, including mezzanines and roofs.

Roofs that had to be made of zinc or lead, with a 45º slope and have mansard.
With so many guidelines and little margin to show off on the part of the architects, a style was created given the similarity of all the buildings, the Haussmann Style.
In general, the house on the second floor was reserved for the richest families, especially until the appearance of the elevator in 1870 and the ceilings of the house were higher than the rest of the floors, as well as the most ornate windows with the balconies running along the entire facade.

The balcony on the 5th floor was simpler since its purpose was to give balance to the facade and give it uniformity. The last floor, the 6th, was reserved for the service, it was divided into many small rooms and a common toilet and the access was a service staircase that led to the kitchens of the apartments of the building.

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