THE THIRD REPUBLIC
The Third Republic (1871-1940) was born out of the terrible defeat of the French by the Prussian armies in 1870. From September 1870 to February 1871, Paris suffered a severe siege by the German army. The treaty signed with Germany by the Assembly (which had taken refuge at Bordeaux) was felt to be treachery in Paris, which had already been abandoned by its political representatives.
From 18th March to 28th May 1871, an uprising broke out in Paris. It was the “Commune de Paris” – a republican revolt at the start, but which took on a strong anarchist tendency. It was savagely quelled. The last insurgents were shot in the Père-Lachaise cemetery. Paris came back into line and peased its folies. In expiation, the basilica of Sacré-Coeur was raised in Montmartre by the Catholic faithful, between 1876 and 1886.
New administrative officers appeared in Paris and municipal councils were elected. The regime was different but Haussmannisation continued because Alphand (at the head of Public Works from 1871-92) finished what had been begun, but without innovation. From 1875-80 the routes boulevard St. Germain - boulevard Henri IV - Bastille and the place de l`Opéra were finished. He continued the opening up of the centre with the streets Etienne Marcel and Réaumur. He also finished improvements in the area annexed in 1860 and the link with old Paris (avenue Gambetta and the streets Caulaincourt, Tolbiac, Alésia and Convention). Between 1870 and 1911, thirty-seven squares were also created.
During the 1880`s a certain number of problems appeared, which Haussmann had refused to confront, and which allowed a more accurate balance sheet of what had been undertaken. For one thing, Haussmann had not thought about industry. He did no “zoning”: he had not distributed the different activities to different areas. For him, they should be mixed in each district.
Since the 1830's the rich were more evident to the West of Paris, and the poor were more concentrated in the East. L`Haussmannisation reinforced this phenomenon. Meanwhile, the difference in density between the right and left banks remained. Haussmann had not thought about housing for the mass of the population. Finally, he had not thought about the Parisian agglomeration as a whole. He did not believe it necessary for the State to intervene in the formation of the outer suburbs, outside the fortification.
Another problem arose later: the authorities of the 3rd Republic had considered at the time that the actions of the Prefect had resolved all problems. And so, if France was in the vanguard after Haussmann, by the end of the 19th century France was behind the times. In 1914 this was incontestable in the realm of regulation and realisation. For example, New-York had established a plan for the city and its agglomeration in 1916. In France the first plan for Paris, the Prost Plan, was not decided until 1939.
But it was true that because of relatively low urban growth in France the pressure on the city was not the same as in America. Between 1872 and 1911, for example, the urban population in France grew by 6 millions, while in Germany the growth was 24 millions.
It was not until 1960 that a transformation as big as that of Haussmann was undertaken. The period between 1870 and 1914 was, however, one in which the most private development took place in Paris. The stock of private constructions in Paris dates largely from that period.
The only technical innovation of the 3rd Republic was the creation of the Metro. Since the 1830`s, horse-drawn omnibus companies existed in Paris. In 1873 the tramway was established, with rails in the public highway. Between 1864 and 1867, a circular railway line was constructed around Paris. Despite the 10,000 existing fiacres (horse drawn cabs) and the river buses on the Seine which arrived after 1867, in 1880 the transport crises was permanent. Traffic was too slow, with too many traffic jams.
The solution was the creation of the metro. But it took twenty years to be completed (the first line dates from 1900) because the municipality wanted a metro which served only Paris while the Government wanted to create a network which linked with the railways. Finally, the elected municipal representatives won the day and the chosen metro was a metro of short, frequent trains.
Text: PJ - Director History Department of www.parisrama.com
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