In the mid-nineteenth century, Baron Georges Eugène Haussmann had a monumental task to transform Paris into an orderly and modern city. In 1853, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned him to redesign the French capital and create a more unified sense of national identity. This would later be known as the “Haussmannization” of Paris, which helped to shape its iconic landscape.
The first step was to clear away the ancient medieval streets that were winding and cramped. Haussmann replaced them with wide boulevards, lined with fashionable shops, cafes and parks—all carefully planned in symmetrical rows. He used arcades along these boulevards for wealthy shoppers who wanted protection from rain or snow while looking at stores filled with expensive goods. Luxury apartments flanked each side of these streets in order to attract middle-class citizens into living in Paris permanently instead of temporarily staying during their workday hours as before.