At the start of the 17th century, Paris was known for a few monuments, but it had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like many European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. But within a century, Paris would be transformed into the modern and mythic city we now know. Most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the 19th century.
Joan DeJean demonstrates that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier, when the first full design for the French capital was implemented. During this period, Paris saw many changes: It became the first city to tear down its fortifications. A large-scale urban plan was created and executed, with organized streets and boulevards, modern bridges, sidewalks, and public parks. Venues opened for urban entertainment, from opera and ballet to another pastime invented in Paris, recreational shopping.
Parisians enjoyed the earliest street lighting and public transportation, even as theirs became Europe’s first great walking city. A century of planned development made Paris beautiful and exciting.
It gave people reasons to be out in public as never before and as nowhere else. It gave Paris its modern identity as a place that people dreamed of seeing. As Joan DeJean shows us in this compelling portrait of a city in transition, by 1700 Paris had become the capital that would transform forever our conception of the city and of urban life.
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The text refers to illustrations
The book was fairly easy listening, given the topic, but it made regular references to illustrations - to which I didn't have access. I'm going to read the book myself instead.