Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Historical Paris

A nice commentary on the Charles Marville show at the Met by Lauren Elkin.


Mary Campbell Gallagher said...

The Marville exhibit is excellent and deserves a lot of praise. But first a word about the latest projected expansion of Paris, on which the NYRB focuses.

From the earliest months of his presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his determination to exploit the resources of Paris for the wealth of France, whether those resources were financial, scientific, educational, or geographical. Apparently believing it would make the capital more competitive internationally, he announced the need to build skyscrapers in Paris like those in New York. He invited 10 teams of architects, planners, geographers, and others to design the Paris of the future, and their duly futuristic plans--skyscrapers included--were exhibited at the Cite de l'architecture & du patrimoine, reportedly to the puzzlement of the public. Some of the teams, I understand, continue to exist, but they have little influence. This is appropriate, since design teams were a gimmick to begin with.

Metro expansion came late in public announcements about Sarkozy's Grand Paris, but it became a major focus. The Grand Paris project as approved by the legislature notably provided for the government's power of expropriation in the area surrounding every new Metro station. Again, as in Mr. Sarkozy's original vision, leveraging Paris for the benefit of the national budget.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, had been planning for years for the expansion of the city as the Paris Metropole, and he assigned the political groundwork, obtaining cooperation from dozens of small governmental units, to his deputy Pierre Mansat. Mansat was ultimately made head of the corporation planning Grand Paris, thus joining the national and the local projects. The national legislation creating this larger Paris recently followed.

I understand that many people are concerned about how this new Paris will work. They fear, among other things, that the misguided urban design ideas of the Delanoe-Hidalgo team will be imposed on them. There is cause for concern.

Mary Campbell Gallagher said...

Oops. Sorry. LRB, not NYRB.