Sunday, April 17, 2011

Industrial Skylines

In the middle of the 19th century, Paris was exactly showing the same face that in the Middle Age. Streets were deepen into darkness and narrowness. It is when Napoleon III went to England and fell in love with west london that he decided to enter in competition. After the fire of 1666, London was all renconstructed becoming a reference of urbanism.

The master idea of Paris reconstruction was a better air and human circulation in adequation with the hygienic theories of the Enlightement but also a reaction to the choléra epidemic of 1832. This campaign was entitled « Paris embellie, Paris agrandie, Paris assainie »

Another hidden goal was to control popular uprisings. One thing that was and still is very funny is that the high rents in Paris have an historical explanation. Haussman wrote to Napoleon III to rise the rent in order to prevent Paris from the working class provincial invasion.

Haussman had the straight line obsession, the "axial cult". But he also provided Paris its most beautiful parks of which the Buttes Chaumont where I spent all me weekends at the moment. A cute and cosy bar named "Rosa Bonheur" elates me back in centuries. When I'm there I feel like I am in the Déjeuner des canotiers toasting my glass with strangers, observing alcohol spreading all the way to my veins and don't think of anything but sharing happiness.

Sunday lunches are rituals with my brother. After it we can go about our respective businesses. He went fishing and I took a walk to an exhibition. The gallery (Itinerrance that features a street art exhibition called "Degage !") was closed. Of course I should have guessed but sunday brainless hungovers are also rituals. Thus, I could stroll in an era of Paris I've never been to. It doesn't look like the rest of Paris at ALL. During this 2 hours walk, I could observed the whiteness of the buildings that are, for most of them, new and have an industrial aesthetic. The corners of the roof were matching the striking blue sky.

Later I realized that it was a beautiful day, which in Paris means crowds in the streets, shouts everywhere but I did'nt see or hear anyone on my way. Just some grannys pushing their bikes, and lovers whispering, a kind of inbetween times which I am sure is in direct relation to Haussman ideas of free air and human circulation.

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