The Emergence of Public Space in the Modern City

The 1789 Revolution 

Politically France went from:

A absolute monarchy under Louis XVI to

a constitutional monarchy to

a republic to

a period of ‘The Terror’ to

the rule of Napoleon.

Napoleon’s rule had the appearance of a republic but was really a type of ‘military monarchy’.  Although it betrayed the republics ideals economically the new order brought a liberal system of rights & economic prosperity.

“It created the basis of the capitalist economy in France, free from governmental directives, and was regulated strictly according to the system of open competition.”

Johann Friedrich Geist – Arcades- The History of a Building Type

Property owned by the church and the nobility was expropriated. These large areas of land in central Paris taken from the church and nobility were sold to private speculators.
This lecture looks at the development of public space with the opening up of the Palais Royal. With its covered walkways lined with shops it was the first urban public space that removed the pedestrian from the threat of traffic or the weather.
After dark it drew people to its nightlife and frivolity. It developed a legendary status that attracted
the attention of the rest of Europe. Private speculators who bought land tried to emulate its success
by building a network of arcades across parts of Paris (1799-1820)  (they were also referred to as a
‘Galerie’,or ‘Passage’). Like the Palais Royal they permitted the newly developing citizenry to
experience their freedoms by allowing them to roam the city protected from traffic and the elements.

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