Constructing Paris in the Age of Revolution by A. Potofsky

By A. Potofsky

Studying the social and political historical past of employees and marketers engaged in developing the French capital from 1763-1815, this ebook argues that Paris building was once a middle region during which 'archaic' and 'innovative' practices have been symbiotically utilized by guilds, the nation, and businesses to release the economic revolution in France.

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In parallel fashion, the maçons de la Creuse, the largest of any migrant community in Paris, took full advantage of the reputation of their region as the repository of a form of collective memory in their talent for construction. 43 Other trades were similarly colonized by immigrants from one region, prized for specialized talents. The stonecutters from the Lower Normandy area also were renowned for their precise work, and represented three out of ten members of the Parisian trades, the other provincials dominated the profession in the capital.

Indeed, the Revolution, as will be shown, was far from an “irrelevance” to the masses of ordinary people. 37 The departure from a destitute countryside was the central act in the forging of a tragic national myth. In this optic, the French peasantry’s slow and often reluctant abandonment of le terroir – for the most urbane Parisian’s authentic identity still lies in the deep provinces – contributed to the “desertification” of the countryside. In fact, migration toward the cities unfolded at a steady cadence through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and greatly accelerated in the post-war twentieth century.

33 Ultimately, the irreconcilable difference between lofty promise and gritty reality led to the collapse of urban renewal projects at the end of the ancien régime. The fiscal shortfalls that fanned the fear of national decline largely undermined the Crown’s financial capacity to reconstruct Paris. By contrast, the opportunities represented by the Revolution’s 1791 abolition of the guilds and the massive appropriation and selling of properties – mostly tied to ecclesiastical institutions – created a long-term stimulus to the private building sector.

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