The story of the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir
Published on 20 October 2014, dans Near the Hotel
The birth of the Great Boulevards
In the early 19th century the centre of Paris was a maze of dark, narrow, disease-ridden streets little changed since the Middle Ages. The Emperor, Napoleon III, wished to open up the city and let in light and air. To supervise the modernisation of the capital he engaged the services of Baron Haussmann, an organisational genius. Haussmann set about demolishing many of the decrepit and dangerous streets, replacing them with wide, straight boulevards lined with buildings of uniformly designed architecture that still characterise the heart of the city today.
The Boulevard Richard Lenoir was designed to suggest the sinuous curve of a river, in tribute to the Canal Saint-Martin which it straddles and partially covers. This exquisite new thoroughfare was opened in 1859 and named in honour of François Richard and Joseph Lenoir-Dufresne, two engineers who brought the cotton industry to Paris and whose spinning works, housed in a former convent on the rue de Charonne, employed hundreds of workers in the early 19th century.
The boulevard became lush with greenery, a veritable river garden planted with willows and ferns, a validation of the vision of Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. It also contains some superb architectural details, which we will talk about next time.
Hotel Marais Bastille, a 3 star Design hotel in the heart of Paris.