Cover image for Haussmann : his life and times, and the making of modern Paris
Haussmann : his life and times, and the making of modern Paris
Carmona, Michel.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Haussmann. English
Publication Information:
Chicago : I. R. Dee, [2002.]

Physical Description:
516 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DC280.5.H3 C3713 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"In 1853, Napoleon III appointed to the Paris city hall an administrator who had already proved himself in a number of provincial posts, most notably at Bordeaux, and whose name would come to symbolize the modernization of Paris. In barely fifteen years, Baron Haussmann completed the enormous task entrusted to him by the emperor: to transform an unruly capital into a prestigious metropolis. Dozens of building sites were opened in the streets of the capital; thousands of houses were pulled down; wide straight boulevards were cut through the city with blocks of apartments built alongside them; new theatres and churches sprang up along with public gardens; water, sewage, and gas systems were modernized." "Mr. Carmona has exhaustively examined the historical record and has written a superb biography that will be welcomed by all who have savored the avenues, parks, public buildings, monuments, and byways of the City of Light. Haussman will be a treasure too for architects, urban planners, and those readers who are interested in the life of great cities."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Michel Carmona, a graduate of the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure, is professor of geography and town and country planning at the Sorbonne in Paris. His specialty is urban geography -- especially that of Paris -- and urban issues in France and large foreign cities. He has served as adviser to various French cabinet ministers and administrators

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, the architect of modern Paris, has been hailed as both a genius and a madman, a great builder and a heartless destroyer. He has also been the subject of revised interest lately, and Carmona's biography proves a worthy addition to the corpus of Haussmann biographies as well as histories of the Second Empire and Third Republic. His early years of moving from one countryside local administration to another were followed by his being placed in charge of Napoleon III's restructuring of the geography of a then-filthy and dark Paris. Creator of Paris' grand boulevards and amazing vistas, he is nevertheless reviled by those who feel he chucked Paris' glorious past by removing its winding medieval streets and destroying its ancient homes. However, his changes in the layout of streets also allowed for the most modern sewage system at the time. Alhough the translation feels a bit awkward and forced, overall the author's placement of Haussmann and his deeds in the greater context of history is successful and engaging. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

The notorious city planner for Napolon III, and prefect of the Seine region, Baron Georges-Eugne Haussmann turned Paris from a still medieval urban area to a triumphant imperial city Haussmann makes New York's Robert Moses look timid by comparison. Haussmann believed in cutting across straight lines for wide boulevards, no matter what was standing in the way. He drove tens of thousands of poor residents out of the city's center and destroyed many ancient sites. Yet Paris did not follow obediently according to Haussmann's plans, and press campaigns, Carmona shows, finally made the public reject his work. In four main sections, Carmona, a professor of urban studies at the Universit Paris IV-Sorbonne (who has written untranslated biographies of historical figures like Queen Marie de Mdicis and Cardinal Richelieu), provides a reliable survey in academic prose of the rich source material available about Haussmann. In a utilitarian rather than elegant translation, this new book can get lost in some fairly tedious detail, but it hits all the necessary marks and then some, showing, for instance, that for all his imperial obsessions, even Napoleon III was not enamored of the giant radiating grands boulevards that make Paris so terrifying for pedestrians today. (June) Forecast: This book's judiciously chosen bibliography (of titles mostly in French) is sure to aid further research, although it omits the main English-language study currently in print, David Jordan's Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann (Free Press), an informative political bio. Further English-language studies of Haussmann date back 30 years to David H. Pinckney's Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris and Anthony Sutcliffe's The Autumn of Central Paris. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Comprehensive, readable, and meticulously researched, this is a sympathetic yet balanced biography of the architect of modern Paris. Carmona (Sorbonne) tells the story of Haussmann's life and career through the prism of 19th-century European political, social, and economic history. He explains how the personal and political collaboration between Haussmann, who was the prefect of the Seine department, and Emperor Napoleon III facilitated the transformation of Paris from a medieval to a modern city. He explains in sharp analytical detail the vision and principles that guided both men, an analysis that will make this book of interest to students of urban architecture and planning as well as to French historians. Carmona is also frank in explaining why his subject remains so controversial. Autocratic and at times imprudent, he was seen by contemporary opponents as insensitive both to the "deportation of the poor" and to the class segregation that resulted from his ambitious grand plans. Nonetheless, Carmona concludes that his "authoritarian, pragmatic, and efficient" personality was necessary in planning and executing such a visionary project of urban transformation. Recommended for academic libraries and specialized collections. [For a view of Haussmann's role in modern Paris that is more about the city than the man, see David P. Jordan's Transforming Paris. Ed.] Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Carmona offers a detailed, engaging study of the life of Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, the influential prefect of the Seine who transformed Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. Carmona considers the various motives for Haussmann's razing of the tangled, narrow streets of vieux Paris (efficiency, hygiene, security) and notes his other contributions, such as ensuring adequate water supplies to the growing city. The author intertwines details of Haussmann's private life with the defining events of the Second Empire, and his prose, admirably translated by Patrick Camiller, is clear and entertaining. Carmona is clearly sympathetic to his subject, but does not shy away from criticisms of Haussmann's autocratic character and describes in great detail the costly overruns and shady financial dealings famously denounced by Jules Ferry as "les comptes fantastiques d'Haussmann." In this biography of the visionary who revolutionized urban planning there are unfortunately few maps, and even readers familiar with Parisian topography will likely get lost on occasion. Recommended for scholars of the Second Empire or of the history of urban planning and for general readers enamored with the grands boulevards of Paris. D. A. Harvey New College of Florida

Table of Contents

Part I A Dedicated Administrator
1 The Prince, Paris, Haussmannp. 5
2 Haussmann Before Haussmannp. 13
3 Subprefect in the Age of the Bourgeois Kingp. 31
4 The End of Louis-Philippe's Reignp. 46
5 First Steps in the Second Republicp. 52
6 Prefect for the Varp. 72
7 From Auxerre to Bordeauxp. 88
Part II Paris, the City with all the Problems
8 The Frenetic Growth of a Capitalp. 113
9 The Splendor and the Squalorp. 126
10 The Transformation of Paris: The Curtain Rises, 1849-1853p. 149
Part III Prefect for the Seine
11 Paris Gets a New Prefectp. 169
12 Haussmann in Controlp. 192
13 Friends and Enemiesp. 205
14 The First New Systemp. 216
15 Imperial Festivitiesp. 246
16 The 180-Million-Franc Agreementp. 281
17 Incorporation of the Suburban Communes and the Third Systemp. 308
18 Financial Difficultiesp. 340
19 The Lion Grown Oldp. 368
Part IV Haussmannization
20 The Ends and the Meansp. 385
21 Modern Infrastructuresp. 396
22 Public Buildingsp. 407
23 The Golden Age of Real Estatep. 417
24 "An Epoch in the History of City Planning"p. 432
Appendices Maps of Parisp. 440
Chronologyp. 446
Notesp. 467
Bibliographyp. 477
Indexp. 491