Tardieu, Plan de Paris en 1838

As the archetype of the modern centralized state, France’s national history was closely bound to that of its capital. The continuity of Paris’s history from ancient to modern times fascinated eighteenth and nineteenth century historians and city planners. As a consequence, the city was the subject of an unusual number of retrospective plans documenting the growth of the city. One of the earliest of these was attached to the ten-volume history of Paris penned by the historian Jacques-Antoine Dulaure (1755-35), first published in 1821. As a young man, Dulaure trained as an architect, engineer, and surveyor, and he was a historical mapmaker of some skill. The five maps in the atlas show the growth of the city from Roman times to the early nineteenth century. This, the final map was revised for the seventh edition of the atlas by the prolific engraver and mapmaker Ambroise Tardieu.

The provides an excellent idea of the habit of Parisian planners in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to tear down old walls to make room for boulevards (derived from the French word for bulwark). The map’s colored lines trace the walls (enceintes) of Paris and their extensions (accroissements) in eight stages of their development from the reign Louis VI (le Gros) in the early twelfth century to the early nineteenth century. (The key at the bottom of the map shows identifies the colors used to delineate the fortifications of different eras.) Of particular interest are the semicircle of boulevards on the north side of the city (the Right Bank) created by the destruction of the walls built by Charles V (1364-80; in dark blue) and Louis XIII (1610-43; in brown). These, including the Boulevard des Capucins and the Boulevard des Italiens, were built at the instigation of the powerful Louis XIV, whose power was such that he felt Paris was no longer needed these walls, but did need the green space their destruction would provide. Louis XIV and his successors also promoted the construction or improvement of many of the radiating tree-lined avenues, including the Champs-Elysees, which provided access to and promoted residential development on the edge city.

 

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