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These Intriguing Photos From The 1860s Show A Paris That No Longer Exists

Many of these streets have been destroyed and rebuilt.

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An official photographer for the city of Paris during the mid-1800s, Charles Marville was tasked with documenting the medieval streets of old Paris during the time that Haussmann, an urban planner under Napoleon, was demolishing chunks of the city to make way for larger boulevards and structures.

These photos are part of exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art titled Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (on display until May 4).

Looking down the banks of the Bièvre River at the bottom of the rue des Gobelins (5th Arrondissement) in 1862.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Bièvre River, a narrow waterway providing support to many tanneries and and mills that flanked it, was covered in Haussmann's renovations. It still technically flows underneath Paris, joining the sewer system.

The no-longer existing rue Estienne in the 1st Arrondissement, 1862-1865.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This was taking from the rue Boucher (still there). This street was torn down to make way for the rue du Pont-Neuf.

Haussmann's method of urban planning wiped out lots of small streets to improve air circulation and provide a better system for waste. Basically, the tiny streets of old Paris meant people were living in filth.


Passage Saint-Guillaume, looking toward the rue de Richelieu, 1863-65.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This small passageway no longer exists, however you can still walk along the rue de Richelieu in the 1st Arrondissement.

Near Arts et Métiers in 1864.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A time lapse shows Parisians walking along the Boulevard de Sebastopol, which is flanked by stately gas lamps. By 1870, twenty thousand gas lamps had been installed in the city, which had previously been a dark and scary place at night.

Impasse de la Bouteille from the rue Montorgueil, 1865–68.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd Arrondissement is still there and is a lively pedestrian street filled with specialty food shops. Yum.

Top of the rue Champlain in the 20th Arrondissement, 1877.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here's a really fascinating relic, which shows the dichotomy between the urbanized central Paris of the 19th century, and the ruggedness of its outskirts. This was literally a shantytown.

Urinal in the 10th, 1876.

Charles Marville/The Metropolitan Museum of Art thing Haussmann did that wasn't so pretty was the installation of public urinals. (Although they were probably handy and fine at the time.) This one sat in front of a theater on the Boulevard Saint-Martin in the 10th Arrondissement.

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