Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stockdale Map of Paris 1

Cambridge, October 30, 2012


Maybe I'll take advantage of our 200-word deal to write about maps.  Definitely good for my "Reading the City" project.  Where to begin?  How about Paris?

I have in front of me an English map of Paris from 1800.  An interesting date; about a decade after the fall of the monarchy and a good half century before Haussmann crisscrossed the city with his boulevards.  It shows an almost perfect circle of densely built irregular blocks traversed east-west by the Seine.  Smack in the center is the "Isle du Palais" (the Île de la Cité) and running north-south, the only major straight uninterrupted street, "St. Martin" to the north and "St. Jacquae" to the south.  Later displaced by larger boulevards (de Sébastopol and Saint-Michel respectively,) that line dates back to the Cardo Maximus of Lutecia, the Roman foundation of Paris.

If I'm getting the scale right, the circle depicted in the map has a diameter of approximately 15,000 feet, about 3 miles (let's say from Les Invalides to the Bastille, does it seem right?)  With a population of a little more than half a million people at the time, it would put Paris at more than 70,000 inhabitants per square mile.  That's the density of Manhattan today!  Incredibly, isn't it?

Yes, lots more in that map.  I'll go back to it tomorrow.


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