HAUSSMANN, Georges Eugène, Baron
(b. 1809, Paris, d. 1891, Paris)

Biography

French administrator, urban planner and financier, commonly known as Baron Haussmann. Having graduated as a lawyer from the Université de Paris in 1831, he served as sous-préfet in various provincial towns and displayed excellent organizational abilities. His work in Yonne and Bordeaux drew him to the attention of the Emperor Napoleon III (reg 1852-70), who was planning fundamental changes to the structure of Paris. The intention was to modernize the ancient fabric of the city and introduce new amenities, such as a sewage system and railway service. Other considerations were the encouragement of a growth in the population and the adaptation of the city to industrial life while facilitating methods of control against riots or warfare.

Appointed Préfet of Paris in 1853, Haussmann was given exceptional powers to carry out the plan. Demolitions were carried out, new building lines were established, traffic routes were opened, and public gardens, influenced by English examples, were created. The main areas of his activity concerned the Louvre, the Tuileries, the approaches to the Hôtel de Ville, the Rue de Rivoli, the area around the Opéra, the avenues leading up to Place de l'Etoile, the Cité and the Grands Boulevards: in all c. 150 km of new roads. Planning regulations based on the classicism favoured by the Académie des Beaux-Arts determined the appearance of all new buildings, including urban furniture and monuments. At the same time, Haussmann encouraged the annexation of the suburbs and had the fortifications of Tiers demolished in 1840, hence modifying the boundaries of the city.

Haussmann's collaborators included the engineer Adolphe Alphand (1817-1891), who worked on the Bois de Boulogne (1854); he also enlisted the services of the architects Jacques-Ignace Hittorff (1792-1867), Victor Baltard, Charles Garnier, Antoine Bailly (1810-1892) and Louis Duc (1802-1879).

Haussmann resigned his post in 1870, when the Third Republic was established, by which time a reaction had set in against his achievements. He was an exceptional worker and clever financier and was successful in attracting private investment in public works.