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How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern Cityby Joan Dejean
Synopses & Reviews
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Paris was known for isolated monuments but had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like other European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. But in a mere century Paris would be transformed into the modern and mythic city we know today.
Though most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the public works of the nineteenth century, Joan DeJean demonstrates that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier, when the first complete design for the French capital was drawn up and implemented. As a result, Paris saw many changes. It became the first city to tear down its fortifications, inviting people in rather than keeping them out. Parisian urban planning showcased new kinds of streets, including the original boulevard, as well as public parks and the earliest sidewalks and bridges without houses. Venues opened for urban entertainment of all kinds, from opera and ballet to a pastime invented in Paris, recreational shopping. Parisians enjoyed the earliest public transportation and street lighting, and Paris became Europes first great walking city.
A century of planned development made Paris both beautiful and exciting. It gave people reasons to be out in public as never before and as nowhere else. And it gave Paris its modern identity as a place that people dreamed of seeing. By 1700, Paris had become the capital that would revolutionize our conception of the city and of urban life.
"Although 19th-century Baron Haussmann often receives credit for Paris's iconic features, this witty and engaging work shows that it was the 17th-century Bourbon monarchs who first transformed Paris into the prototype of the modern city that would inspire the world. Penn professor DeJean (The Essence of Style) notes that Henri IV (1553 — 1610) was the first to consider the practical value of public works and how they could improve people's lives. Besides centralizing France's administrative functions, Henri IV built the first bridge to cross the Seine in a single span (the Pont Neuf) and the first urban public square (the Place Royale, now the Place des Vosges). Louis XIV took his grandfather's plans even further by tearing down the city's fortifications, replacing them with tree-lined boulevards around the city's perimeter, and instituting a 'grand design' that would influence Haussmann 250 years later. A charismatic and knowledgeable narrator, DeJean shows how an open city where men and women from all stations could congregate fueled the rise of the self-made man, the financier, the real estate developer, the artisan, the merchant, the Parisienne, and the coquette. With panache and examples from primary sources, guidebooks, maps, and paintings, she illustrates how Paris changed people's conception of a city's potential. B&w illus., 8-page color insert. Agent: Alice Martell, the Martell Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
How Paris became the most popular destination in the world.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Paris was known for a few monuments but had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like many European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. In a mere century, however, Paris was transformed: it became the original modern city and the mythic city we still know today.
Most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the 19th century. Through original research, Joan DeJean pushes that date back by two centuries, giving readers the just-blossoming city. During this period, Paris saw many seminal changes: It was the first city to tear down its fortifications, inviting people in, rather than keeping them out. A large-scale urban plan was created and executed with organized streets and boulevards, modern bridges and public parks. New technologies helped create the earliest public transportation system and street lights. And venues opened for public amusement and consumption including opera, ballet, and theater, as well as shopping as an experience of pleasure.
The new model for urban space not only altered the physical city, it radically changed the way the people of Paris interacted in public. It transformed Paris into the only truly modern city of its time-and had a lasting influence on the way we think of city life today.
About the Author
Joan DeJean is Trustee Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of ten books on French literature, history, and material culture, including most recently The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual and the Modern Home Began and The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. She lives in Philadelphia and, when in Paris, on the street where the number 4 bus began service on July 5, 1662.
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