To accompany the reading of Paris Reborn, this annotated map shows the location of the streets, squares, parks and buildings created during the Second Empire transformation of Paris (1848-1870). Click on any item for more information or zoom for a better view. If you click through to the Google Maps page you can also scroll down the left to see the list of places.
Some spots are still available for this special event scheduled for Sunday, April 7th, 2013 at 2 PM at 92Y Tribeca, which will give participants the chance to immerse themselves in the mindset and the times of the fascinating man who created and led the French Second Empire.
This weekend I am in New York, speaking at Columbia University as part of the Urban History Association’s annual conference. I’ll be discussing the idea of cosmopolitanism as it relates to urban planning in the first years of the Second Empire (1852-1855). An excerpt of my talk appears below.
“The transformation of the Chaumont hill into a grandiose park, with viewpoints as varied as they are picturesque, is one of the most surprising changes brought about by the Paris administration since it undertook the renewal of the old neighborhoods of Paris,” wrote the Almanach du Magasin Pittoresque in its review of the major events of 1867.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is certainly the most spectacular of Paris’s Second Empire parks. Due to its location, however, it is not very much visited by tourists. If one is interested in what Second Empire urbanism really meant for Paris – and is at the same time curious about the dynamic neighboring area of Belleville and what it has to offer – one should absolutely leave the beaten path and head to the north-east of the city.
The last few years have seen a flourishing of interest in Napoleon III and the Second Empire. But while nearly one and a half million people a year visit the Hôtel des Invalides, where Napoleon I’s remains are located, only a handful visit the tomb of his nephew.
To reach the final resting place of the man who ruled France from 1848 to 1870, one must go to the town of Farnborough, England, 35 miles south-west of London. There, in a crypt below a neo-Gothic cathedral on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery, lie Napoleon III, his wife, and their son.
How did Regency and early Victorian London influence the design of Napoleon III’s Paris?
We know that Napoleon III lived in London during his exile before returning to France in 1848 and that he was very aware of the urban and social issues of his day. But other than rare instances (the Bois de Boulogne, the Parisian “squares”), there are no direct references to London in the urbanism Second Empire Paris.
At the same time, there is no doubt that the future Emperor’s stays in what was at the time the leading city of the western world played a role in forming his image of the modern city.
With all the great things to do in and around Paris, it is understandable that the Château de Compiègne remains relatively marginal in the visitor statistics. Nevertheless – especially for anyone interested in Napoleon III and the Second Empire – it is a very worthwhile outing.