Colin Jones, Paris: A History

Haussmannism and  the City  of Modernity

The Ile de Ia Cité

While  the croisee [the great east-west and north-south axes that were designed to allow traffic to cross the city easily] was  thus being put  in place, Haussmann set about  making a further  section  of central  Paris, namely  the Ile de la Cité [the island in the middle of the Seine containing Notre Dame], fit for his new image of Paris.  Despite  Rambuteau's best efforts,  mobility  and  circulation still seemed the antithesis of what  the Cite had  become.  Yet by the I 870s , almost at a stroke, Haussmann had converted the  Cité from  overcrowded residential  zone   into  administrative centre, its  population  tumbling from 15,000 to 5,000.  Virtually  all private dwellings were removed, with the exception of a few hundred metres  of old  housing left  on  the north-west of the island.  Notre-Dame cathedral and the  Palais de  Justice [Palace of Justice] _ (with  the  Sainte­ Chapelle) were  left  intact, but  were  now stripped of surrounding  housing. The  Hotel-Dieu hospital straddling the Seine  towards the  LeftBank  was demolished, and  the institution relocated in a new building the other side of the Parvis  de  Notre-Dame [the paved area in front of Notre Dame]  (which  was  vastly  increased  in  size)  on  the  site  of what had  been  slum  housing. This left  the cathedral -- at that  moment undergoing aggressive restoration by the medievophile Viollet-le-Duc -- looking uncannily isolated. At the centre of the  island   were  now  located  the commercial  courts (the Tribunal de  Commerce) and  the city's  police  headquarters, the Prefecture de Police. Haussmann had succeeded in making the  lle de Ia Cite a passageway from Left Bank to Right: few in their  right  minds would henceforth choose to linger there, save  on  the quais  or  in the cathedral.

Destruction of the Medieval Buildings on the Ile de Ia Cité



Ile de la Cité in 1754

Ile de la Cité Today

The central section of the Île de la Cité before Haussmannization

The same spot ten years later

The central section of the Île de la Cité in 1857 as seen from the towers of Notre Dame


The same place 8 years later in 1865 after Haussmann had razed to the ground all the Medieval streets to build the Prefecture of Police

Medieval Streets on the Île de la Cité before Haussmann

Connecting streets through the Île de la Cité