|The growth of Paris |
Paris is the political, economic and cultural centre of France. With more than 11.5 million inhabitants in 2006, the Paris metropolitan area is home to approximately one fifth of the French population. Not only is Paris the most important industrial centre in France, it also has a growing service sector.
Historical development of Paris
As one distinctive structure line shows, the Seine was a decisive part of the early development of the city. The starting point was a passage across the river in the area of the Seine island (Ile de la Citié). A settlement of a Celtic tribe (the Parisi) had already been formed on the fortification in pre-Christian times. When Julius Caesar (52BC) was able to subjugate the Gauls, it had the name "Nautae Parisiaci". The Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia already had functional differentiation in its origin. The Seine island was divided into a spiritual realm in the east (Temple of Jupiter) and a temporal dominion (Palace) in the west.
The oldest maps of Paris divided the city in to University, Citié and Ville de Paris. By "university" is meant the Latin Quarter, the historic university district, which takes its name from the common language taught at the university in the middle ages, Latin. To this day, the Latin Quarter is an intellectual and cultural centre. By "Citié" denotes the Seine island which housed the Royal Palace, cathedral and other public facilities. In contrast, "Ville" identifies the bourgeois Paris on the northern bank of the Seine, which had established itself as an economic centre since the early "Frankish" period. A city wall was built between 1180 and 1210 with the Louvre built from the beginning of the 13th Century. On the eastern edge of the medieval city wall, palaces of the king and nobility were built. This district experienced a favourite residence of the nobility, as evidenced by the construction of many mansions (hotels). Through extensive renovations of the last decades, this "Palace District" has become one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the city.
In the 17th Century, the fortifications were demolished in the north of the Seine. Between the wide old city gates, tree-lined boulevards arose. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the aristocrisy and upper middle classes relocated their residential areas to the western district of St. Honore and St-Germain-des-Prés. The new Avenue des Champs Elysees (formed in late 17th Century) and other newly created avenues and squares form a frame work that now gives a sense of an upmarket, residential neighbourhood.
In the 19th Century, the constructions under the city prefect Baron Haussmann were more advantageous in the western areas of inner Paris. The post war period was in part, characterised by a series of major inner city projects, the other by an almost chaotic urbanisation of surrounding land and the construction of towns (Villes Nouvelles). The larger projects were mostly on the west-east axis. Due to the spectacular construction of these projects, the reputation of Paris as an intellectual and cultural centre of international repute strenghtened. For example, La Defénse, is a satellite town at the western end of this axis, with an office centre of 100,00 employees and a huge shopping centre. There are three museums in the inner city, while the Pompidou Centre, Gare d'Orsay, and the Louvre, the Opera House, the conference centre Carrousel de Louvre, the business centre at Bercy and the new Biblioteque Nationale are in the east the city centre as part of this axis.
M. Felsch, A. Pletsch, E. Astor; Ü: Colette Fleming
Keywords: France the capital urban development urban growth
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