Brooklyn Bookbeat: ‘Paris Reborn': Brooklynite’s take on City of Lights

Stephane Kirkland, a writer who splits his time between Brooklyn and Paris, will soon release his vivid and engrossing account of the greatest transformation of a major city in modern history. “Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, andthe Quest to Build a Modern City” (St. Martin’s Press; April 2, 2013) is a must-read for anyone who ever wondered how Paris, the city universally admired as a standard of urban beauty, became what it is today. Kirkland wil lappear at BookCourt in Cobble Hill on Tuesday, April 2 to celebrate the release of his book. 

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Paris we know today was born.  Traditionally known as a dirty, congested, and dangerous city, Paris was transformed in an extraordinary period from 1848 to 1870, when the government launched a huge campaign to build streets, squares, parks, churches, and public buildings. The Louvre Palace was expanded, Notre-Dame Cathedral was restored and the masterpiece of the Second Empire, the Opéra Garnier, was built. A very large part of what we see when we visit Paris today originates from this short span of twenty-two years.

The vision for the new Paris belonged to Napoleon III, who had led a long and difficult climb to absolute power. But his plans faltered until he brought in a civil servant, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, to take charge of the implementation. Heedless of controversy, Haussmann pressed ahead with the giant undertaking until, in 1870, his political enemies brought him down, just months before the collapse of the whole regime brought about the end of an era.

Stephane Kirkland holds advanced degrees in architecture and art history and has worked as an architect and as a consultant. He now shares his time between Brooklyn and Paris, writing about architecture, urban planning, and history.

 

The event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill.