A fascinating story of Paris transforming from being a squalor to the great city of today. Most top cities have a similar story which is quite remarkable. Just shows how certain humans shape all these great living places against all odds.
Paris owes its transformation to a George-Eugène Haussmann:
Walking through these lively and endearing medieval streets, it seems almost incredible that they were once considered the enemy, to be demolished in haste – and not, it has to be added, by the German military, who had less than healthy designs on Paris at various times between 1870 and 1945. No, it was none other than the Emperor of France, Napoleon III, and his Prefect for the Seine, George-Eugène Haussmann –who died 125 years ago – who had districts like the Marais in their sights.
Like much of Paris, however, the Marais stank to high heaven in 1853 when the emperor instructed Haussmann to rebuild the odorous city along grand and salubrious lines. Entire medieval quarters of the city were to be razed with modern avenues taking their place. “It was the gutting of Paris,” wrote Haussmann proudly in his Memoires.