Cover image for “Civilizing” Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889–1930 By Teresa Meade

“Civilizing” Rio

Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889–1930

Teresa Meade


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ISBN: 978-0-271-02870-5

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224 pages
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“Civilizing” Rio

Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889–1930

Teresa Meade

'Civilizing’ Rio is a concise, well-written social history that will be invaluable to anyone conducting an examination of the modern urban environment’s evolution. Professor Meade utilizes Manuel Castels’s ‘theory of collective consumption’ to examine Rio de Janeiro’s growth and development. She effectively argues that the allocation of urban space and its amenities are not accidental, but planned in a manner that purposely separates the rich from the poor. . . . ‘Civilizing’ Rio will be of great appeal to all who are interested in Latin American urban and social history. It also serves as a foundation upon which other comparative analyses of developing cities can be examined. It is unfortunate that the book will likely be ignored by the architects and planners who are responsible for the design of today’s cities.”


  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
A massive urban renewal and public-health campaign in the first decades of the nineteenth century transformed Brazil's capital into a showcase of European architecture and public works. The renovation of Rio, or "civilization" campaign, as the government called it, widened streets, modernized the port, and improved sanitation, lighting, and public transportation. These changes made life worse, not better, for the majority of the city's residents, however; the laboring poor could no longer afford to live in the downtown, and the public-health plan did not extend to the peripheral areas where they were being forced to move. Their resistance is the focus of Teresa Meade's study.

Meade details how Rio grew according to the requirements of international capital, which financed, planned, and oversaw the renewal—and how local movements resisted these powerful, distant forces. She also traces the popular rebellion that continued for more than twenty years after the renovation ended in 1909, illustrating that community protests are the major characteristic of political life in the modern era.

'Civilizing’ Rio is a concise, well-written social history that will be invaluable to anyone conducting an examination of the modern urban environment’s evolution. Professor Meade utilizes Manuel Castels’s ‘theory of collective consumption’ to examine Rio de Janeiro’s growth and development. She effectively argues that the allocation of urban space and its amenities are not accidental, but planned in a manner that purposely separates the rich from the poor. . . . ‘Civilizing’ Rio will be of great appeal to all who are interested in Latin American urban and social history. It also serves as a foundation upon which other comparative analyses of developing cities can be examined. It is unfortunate that the book will likely be ignored by the architects and planners who are responsible for the design of today’s cities.”
“Using an impressive array of Brazilian primary and secondary sources and placing her study within a larger theoretical context on the causes of urban violence, Meade shows that Rio’s development, like that of many metropolises in the developing world . . . was planned. . . . An excellent resource for those interested in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro during the Old Republic, and urban violence in general.”
“Meade takes a refreshing and provocative perspective that offers substantial rewards to students of urban movements in general. . . . ‘Civilizing’ Rio should provoke a rethinking of urban politics and movements.”
“This lively and stimulating discussion of urban ‘renewal’ and popular protest in Rio de Janeiro brings together several themes of current interest, including the spatial and public-health dimensions of social control, popular responses to new forms of state repression and professional expertise, and class conflict beyond the workplace. . . . [A]n important contribution to the social history of Latin American cities.”
“['Civilizing’ Rio] is part of the new social history that emphasizes crowds, popular resistance, and neighborhoods in the context of social classes. The study supplies concrete historical data to test world systems theories of how popular movements were affected by the effect of world economic change and contributes an original argument in the areas of urban and labor history. There is much comparative discussion placing the study in the international context of other third world areas such as Africa, Argentina, Mexico, as well as Western Europe.”

Teresa A. Meade is Associate Professor of History at Union College in Schenectady, New York. She is co-editor, with Mark Walker, of Science, Medicine, and Cultural Imperialism (1991).


List of Illustrations


1 Reconsidering Victor Baltard

2 Classicism and the Architect’s Education

3 Representing Paris

4 Decorated Construction

5 An Urban History of the Central Markets

6 Housing the City

Epilogue on Function and Typology in Baltard’s Urban Architecture

Appendix: Career Chronology of Victor Baltard





Reconsidering Victor Baltard

The reputation of Victor Baltard (fig. 1) is inseparable from the Halles centrales, or Central Markets, of Paris (fig. 2), the complex of iron-and-glass pavilions built to his plans between 1854 and 1874 in the historic heart of the city.1 And yet, starting with accusations that he stole ideas from rival projects by the radical architect Hector Horeau and the engineer Eugène Flachat, his ability to design one of the defining works of nineteenth-century Paris has been subject to persistent skepticism and doubt.2 As Charles Garnier observed in the perceptive obituary he delivered in 1875 as Baltard’s successor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the architect’s accomplishment would be forgotten precisely because he had realized in the markets such a self-evident and widely imitated solution to a fundamental problem of his times:

Thanks to the Central Markets, the name of Mr. Baltard should never be forgotten; and yet one can fear that, because of its very excellence, this building will be powerless to preserve the memory of its builder, at least for the crowd. . . . I have said that the markets have already been copied many times. . . . This sort of plagiarism is becoming common, and indeed almost necessary, since the practical solution is actually found through this way of understanding a market. But this abundance of similar buildings . . . is destined to overwhelm the original monument. The creation of one man will seem one day to be the creation of everyone, and when in the future one admires these great constructions, one will perhaps no longer be able to distinguish the first monument or recognize then the name of the eminent architect who created the original type.3

In 1928, Sigfried Giedion validated this judgment when he identified Baltard as the accidental author of his most famous work: neither “a great architect nor a great constructor,” Baltard, according to Giedion, “laboriously had to patch his buildings together from the ideas of others.”4 But if Garnier proved to be presciently on target, both in grasping the ease of reproduction made possible by the Industrial Revolution and in anticipating Baltard’s future reputation, he was also making a larger—at once more substantive and discriminating—point. Suggesting that Baltard could as easily have become “an excellent doctor or a remarkable politician . . . a scholar or an industrialist, a poet or a businessman,” while observing that his versatility as “a distinguished writer, prolific speaker, skillful designer, wise administrator, and ingenious builder” made him seem a jack-of-all-trades, “condemned never to surpass in the arts what is usually called a respectable average,” Garnier acknowledged that other criteria were needed to evaluate an architect who had been brought by the nineteenth century and its new methods of production to practice architecture outside the conventions and traditions of his art.5 The present book unpacks this nuanced argument, which Garnier condensed into twelve deceptively short pages, in order to make the case that the circumstances and significance of the markets’ construction, and the parallel circumstances of architectural training and professional experience that equipped Baltard for the task of designing them, both need to be reconsidered.

Historically, there have been two ways to think of the Central Markets. The earlier one looks to the fact that these were the first public buildings in Paris to be assembled entirely from a standardized and prefabricated structure of iron, brick, wood, and glass. Constituting an important moment in architecture’s industrialization, the markets turned the decayed medieval quarter of the Halles into an orderly grid of pavilions and streets, and they were recognized from the start as important instruments in Prefect George’s-Eugène Haussmann’s renewal of the city between 1853 and 1870. The ten original pavilions and connecting covered streets functioned as specialized spaces of marketing and distribution for a rapidly growing metropolis, at once zoned for different categories of food and integrated by their streets into an efficient transportation network. Part of the same circulatory system that circled nineteenth-century Paris with boulevards and railroad stations, the Central Markets concentrated in one place daily arriving foodstuffs in order to disperse them again throughout the city. Émile Zola appropriated a metaphor already in use by 1854 to name them the belly of Paris in his novel of 1873, Le ventre de Paris. But this was the mechanized belly of an industrial age, “a vast modern machine, some kind of steam engine, some kind of boiler serving the people’s digestion, a gigantic metal belly, bolted, rivetted, made of wood, of glass, and of iron, with the elegance and power of a mechanical motor.”6

Where the sumptuous decoration and stone façades of state monuments like Hector Lefuel’s New Louvre or Charles Garnier’s Opéra (fig. 3) stood for the nation’s continuity with its classical past, the skeletal metal frame of the municipal markets signified the city’s transformation from cultural artifact into object of utility (fig. 4). Abandoning the opaque, if permeable, boundaries of a masonry wall, which had acted until the Industrial Revolution to shape the city into a dense hierarchy of public and private spaces, the markets’ immaterial curtains of brick and translucent glass, held in place by a filigree of cast and wrought iron beneath continuous roofs, seemed socially as much as architecturally to propose another urban identity and order for Paris. Transparent and rational, the markets displaced the familiar differences of building and street, inside and outside, private and public, with the functional abstraction of a scientifically conceived and technically realized theory of the city. Space could now be organized programmatically without being bounded physically. At the markets, architecture was reformulated from its classical conception as a unified, bounded, and self-contained whole, to become instead an additive and open-ended system of repeating, interchangeable units, which, from the structure to the spaces, could be extended indefinitely until a program’s quantitative demands had been met.

A century after their construction, the decision in 1971 to demolish the Central Markets produced a second reading of their significance. At the time, the destruction of the markets touched off a fierce debate between functionalists, who argued that the pavilions had outlived their singular purpose, and preservationists, who claimed that the pavilions, far from being narrowly utilitarian structures, were instead wonderfully flexible spaces that could be adapted to a wide variety of needs.7 Built on a site reserved for the markets since the Middle Ages, their central location in an increasingly populous and crowded city had complicated the distribution of foodstuffs from the start and doomed them to obsolescence once refrigeration eliminated the need to supply perishable foods to the city on a daily basis. By the 1950s, the Halles quarter was being targeted by planners intent on eradicating what they saw as a site of drug trafficking and prostitution. The Situationists Guy Debord and Abdelhafid Katib celebrated the Halles in “psychogeographical” maps that delineated the quarter as a place of vibrant, if unpredictable, cultural (rather than purely commercial) exchange, but only nostalgia delayed until 1969 the removal of the markets’ functions to the transportation hub of Rungis, on the city’s periphery.8 From 1969 until 1971, the Halles actually became a site of cultural exchange, with performances, exhibitions, and events that turned the pavilions, according to the sociologist Henri Lefebvre, “into a gathering place and a scene of permanent festival—in short, into a centre of play rather than of work—for the youth of Paris.”9 Their demolition left behind a void stretching for blocks and filled, incompletely and unconvincingly, with the clutter of a subway station, a shopping mall, and a park.10

While the debate over their usefulness came too late to save the markets, it did prompt scholars to reexamine their history. First, in the pathbreaking Système de l’architecture urbaine (1977), Françoise Boudon and a team of scholars placed the markets within an “urban tissue” of housing blocks, aristocratic mansions, churches, and other public buildings, which had shaped the Halles quarter as a “system of urban architecture” since the twelfth century.11 Next, in Les Halles de Paris (1980), Bertrand Lemoine complemented Boudon’s urban history with an architectural history of the markets’ design, tracing the sequence of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century projects that led up to Baltard’s definitive project of 1854.12 And third, in Building Paris (1994), David Van Zanten plotted how a new kind of “commercial urbanism” was formulated between 1845 and 1854 through three phases of planning based in the speculative logic of property lines, lot plans, and real-estate transactions.13 Even though all three continued to define the markets in Haussmannian terms, as instruments of renewal that radically transformed the existing historic quarter, Boudon, Lemoine, and Van Zanten demonstrated in their research how the gridded layout of pavilions had been generated through a historical process of urban development, negotiation, and compromise rather than from a single predetermined master plan. In so doing, they opened the way to the typological, rather than functional, definition of the markets to be considered here. Fundamentally indebted to Aldo Rossi’s argument for the “complexity of urban artifacts” in his seminal study The Architecture of the City (1966/1978), this typological approach to the city and its buildings is further informed by Anthony Vidler’s critical formulation in 1976 of a “third typology” aimed at understanding “the nature of the city itself, emptied of specific social content from any particular time and allowed to speak simply of its own formal condition.”14

The shift in critical perspective resulting from the markets’ destruction did not, however, close the interpretative divide that continues to separate the buildings from Baltard. At issue are not the facts of his involvement, at least since Lemoine straightened out the project’s design chronology, but rather the specific content of his contributions within the context of an otherwise conventional career (as outlined in the appendix).15 Following in the footsteps of his father, the Neoclassical architect Louis-Pierre Baltard, and encouraged by family friends who included Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, Baltard studied under his father at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he won the Prix de Rome in 1833. He went on to spend thirty years working for the municipal administration of Paris, from the July Monarchy through the Second Republic and Second Empire, climbing the bureaucratic ranks until 1860, when Haussmann appointed him director of the newly reorganized architectural service in the Prefecture of the Seine. During the 1840s and 1850s, Baltard decorated, restored, and modified the city’s medieval and Renaissance parish churches. Engaging Ingres’s students among other artists to decorate these churches with cycles of mural painting, he also adjusted their building fabric to the planning realities of Haussmann’s Paris, most notably when the Boulevard de Sébastopol truncated the apse of Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles. In the 1850s, Baltard modified the Hôtel de Ville, adding a grand staircase and iron-and-glass roof to its central courtyard, and designed the two Neo-Renaissance annex buildings that face city hall from either side of the new Avenue Victoria. Finally, in the 1860s, he built the church of Saint-Augustin for a triangular wedge of land at the intersection of the Boulevard de Malesherbes and the Rue Portalis: responding volumetrically to a site shaped by its streets, the church’s masonry shell is reduced to an eclectic curtain of stone draped over an exposed structure of iron. If these works collectively tended toward pragmatic adjustments of historic precedents to the dictates of modern planning and industrial production, in none of them did Baltard seem able to break free of nineteenth-century historicism to imagine the frank embrace of modernity realized so exceptionally at the Central Markets.

More interested in the markets than their architect, Lemoine documents Baltard’s projects without addressing the professional or critical context of their design. Van Zanten considers the architect’s career more generally in a chapter from Building Paris titled “Haussmann, Baltard, and Municipal Architecture.” Surveying the operations and employees of the city’s architectural service, whose sphere of action expanded exponentially under Haussmann, Van Zanten credits a new kind of authority to Baltard, one at odds with the traditional responsibilities of a Lefuel or Garnier to represent the city or state in conventional forms, because Baltard controlled the conventionally invisible yet finally more consequential realm of “the city’s functions and texture.”16 Faced with the apparent contradictions in Baltard’s work between historicism and industrial commercialism, Van Zanten concludes that he was an architect of “unresolved juxtapositions,” who accepted “the loosening of the consistencies of art in the face of anonymous technology . . . empowered by the concrete needs of municipal architecture and made plausible by the shadow of adherence to the niceties of traditional design.”17

Pierre Pinon, in his 2005 biography of Louis-Pierre and Victor Baltard, argues that father and son alike merit study precisely because they were each so typically “representative of their times.”18 Steering clear of “polemics,” Pinon believes that the unfounded if rancorous accusations of plagiarism launched against the architect are “explained by the fact that everything had been too easy” for this privileged member of the architectural and municipal elite: at the markets, Baltard was simply doing his job, producing a work whose metal structure demonstrated his technical competence yet that finally lacked the intellectual substance found in the more thoughtful architecture of a Henri Labrouste or Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.19 Proving by contrast the eclectic norm of his practice, the markets were Baltard’s single excursion into “the realm of experimentation,” the one exception to the architectural “bricolage” of ad hoc and ultimately indiscriminate assemblages of historical styles, building technologies, and functional programs characterizing the rest of his work.20 Baltard is credited with the Central Markets’ design but remains surprisingly irrelevant to their conception in any sense beyond the very narrow one of specialized expertise.

More than any other source, the testimony of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, prefect of the Seine and the administrator to whom Baltard answered as architect of the markets, explains this historical skepticism. Though Baltard’s commission predated the prefect’s arrival on the scene, Haussmann appeared at a crucial moment in the markets’ history, and he claimed years later in his Mémoires (1890–93) to have salvaged the architect’s appointment.21 Construction of an earlier design, mixing stone walls with a cast-iron roofing structure, had started in 1851, but this project carried with it political expectations that, while outside Baltard’s control, complicated his task. Laying the cornerstone on 15 September 1851, President Louis-Napoléon had pronounced the project to be in the entire nation’s interest: “In setting the first stone of a building whose purpose is so eminently popular, I confidently yield to the hope that, with the support of all good citizens and the protection of heaven, we will be able to place on the soil of France some foundations on which will be raised a social edifice solid enough to offer a shelter against the violence and mobility of human passions.”22 Instead, in 1853, the first pavilion provoked a storm of protest: the austere and monumental mass of stone that had been praised in 1851 was now being attacked in the press for seeming more like a fortress than a market hall.23 Market employees submitted a petition of complaint to Napoléon III, who returned as emperor on 3 June 1853 to a site he had last visited as president, and ordered that work be stopped.24

Haussmann intervened sometime after he was sworn in as prefect, on 29 June. As recounted in his Mémoires, Haussmann went to Napoléon III for instructions: “The emperor, enchanted by the Gare de l’Est . . . conceived the Central Markets as being this type of hall roofed with an iron-and-glass structure. . . . ‘What I want are vast umbrellas, nothing more,’ he told me one day, charging me with receiving, organizing, and submitting to him the counterprojects that he had provoked [by dismissing Baltard], and sketching for me, in a few pencil strokes, the silhouette he had in mind.”25 Sketch in hand, the prefect returned to his office in the Hôtel de Ville, where he coordinated the imperial silhouette with his master plan of the market as two groups of pavilions divided by a main central street. Haussmann then summoned Baltard and told him to produce a new scheme based on the emperor’s sketch and his master plan: “Quickly, make me a project that follows these guidelines. Iron, iron, nothing but iron!” Baltard supposedly protested that iron “was fine for engineers; but what did an architect, ‘an artist,’ have to do with this industrial metal?”26 When, however, Haussmann made it clear that Baltard’s career was at stake, the architect capitulated and developed the requisite iron structure. Taking this scheme to Napoléon III, Haussmann presented it as his solution to the imperial command: “I told His Majesty that I, trying to follow his ideas, had had a project drawn up that I hesitated to place before his eyes. . . . ‘Let me see,’ the emperor said. And as soon as he saw it, he cried: ‘But that’s it, that’s exactly it!’”27 In May 1854, the emperor viewed a model of the markets at the Hôtel de Ville, fabricated on orders from Haussmann, and used the occasion to reinstate Baltard by decorating him with a Legion of Honor cross, at the prefect’s suggestion though supposedly without realizing this was the architect of the original pavilion. Confessing his deception, Haussmann mollified the emperor with an epigram: “It is the same architect; but it is not the same prefect.”28 Haussmann accused Baltard of “ingratitude” when the architect failed to acknowledge his crucial role by dedicating to him the Monographie des Halles centrales.29

Seamlessly self-aggrandizing, Haussmann presents himself as an adroitly manipulative administrator able to outwit a naive, if enthusiastic, emperor, who was so inattentive as to be duped into honoring a disgraced architect whom he had already met several times before. Haussmann’s account, however, contradicts what actually happened in the summer of 1853.30 On 5 July, Baltard did in fact submit three alternative schemes to the prefect, two of which were either entirely or predominantly in iron.31 But these variant designs are dated 13 June and had already been presented to the emperor a week before Haussmann arrived in Paris on 28 June; the project described by Haussmann in his Mémoires, incorporating the new master plan, was not drawn up until the following October. Redating this later project to his arrival in Paris several months earlier, the prefect collapsed two distinct events in June and October—only the second of which took place when he was present—into a single fabricated moment of decisive intervention. Far from being the main actor at a pivotal juncture in the history of Paris, saving Baltard’s career even as he pushed him to redesign one of the most important public works of the Second Empire, Haussmann turns out to have turned up too late, nearly a month after the emperor communicated his desires on 3 June, and two and a half weeks after the architect had seized the initiative—on his own volition, not Haussmann’s orders—by radically revising the markets’ design.

Acknowledging only a “few words,” Baltard never specified the imperial criticism he received on 3 June.32 Napoléon III might have mentioned the Gare de l’Est, completed by François Duquesney and Pierre Cabanel de Sermet in 1852, though he was more probably thinking of the Gare Saint-Lazare, whose train shed had just been expanded by Eugène Flachat in 1851–53 (fig. 5): visiting Saint-Lazare after his inspection of the markets, the emperor was reportedly struck by the contrast between the pavilion’s massive stone construction and the shed’s light iron structure, which “allied boldness and elegance with the advantage of great economy.”33 Either way, train stations were presented to Baltard as models of industrial modernization, causing him to write defensively to the emperor in mid-June that “as for the system of construction [of the original pavilion], we wanted, it is true, to distinguish it from what is generally employed in railroad stations.”34 Yet both the Gare de l’Est and the Gare Saint-Lazare, with their iron-and-glass halls held behind Neo-Renaissance masonry façades, were fundamentally similar in conception to Baltard’s market pavilion. If, as Haussmann later claimed, the emperor really did demand “umbrellas,” it could have been with the more radical example of the Crystal Palace in mind (fig. 6). Inaugurated on 1 May 1851 (not long before Louis-Napoléon’s coup d’état of 2 December 1851 and the plebiscite that legitimized his Second Empire on 1 December 1852), this factory-manufactured iron-and-glass exhibition hall had been designed by Joseph Paxton under the patronage of Prince Albert, the royal consort of Napoléon III’s political ally Queen Victoria. To the anglophilic emperor, whose desire to modernize Paris was inspired by the example of London, the significance of this building, produced by the world’s leading industrial nation, must have been obvious. National chauvinism dictated the rhetorical substitution of a French for an English example, with Flachat’s shed providing a timely analogue, but the fact remains that the Crystal Palace was more like the emperor’s “umbrellas” than the train stations of Paris.

What, then, was Haussmann up to when he recast as historical fiction an actual series of events? According to Eugène Rouher, a frequent political adversary of Haussmann, the prefect had “an ability to assimilate information so highly developed that in the wink of an eye he made his own—and believed to be his own—all the ideas of his collaborators.”35 Haussmann’s fable is so cavalier in its disregard for a verifiable set of dates because he really did believe what he published in 1890, a story he had probably been telling and polishing for years, from the moment he reached Paris in late June 1853. To him, the story was true because it dramatized his appointment and measured the administrative distance between the cautious decisions of his predecessor, Jean-Jacques Berger, and his own vigorous push for change: “It is the same architect; but it is not the same prefect.” Haussmann was going to transform Paris.

This psychological truth needs to be kept in mind when trying to understand why histories of Second Empire Paris, from the classic studies by André Morizet (1932), Brian Chapman (1957), and David Pinkney (1958) to the recent biographies of Haussmann by Jean des Cars (1988), David Jordan (1995), Georges Valence (2000), and Michel Carmona (2000), have all accepted the prefect’s account of what happened in 1853. Correcting a few dates, as Lemoine did in 1980, and proving in the process that Baltard took the initiative to save his own career, has not shaken the conviction that, without Haussmann, this architect could never have rethought his design of the markets in the emphatically industrial terms demanded by Napoléon III. After the fact, Baltard seemed to corroborate this judgment. In his Monographie des Halles centrales, he noted drily that the markets’ original design had been rejected because “a pronounced enthusiasm for metal constructions, of which railroad stations offered interesting examples, dominated public taste, alienating it from stone constructions.”36 Ten years later, in his supplement to that monograph, Baltard came bluntly to the point: “As far as we are concerned, we have always thought that the true system of construction for public markets in our climate is to be found today in a reasoned combination of stone for the surrounding walls and iron and wood for the interior supports and roofs.”37 In thought, if not in actual deed, Baltard had resisted the command to redesign the markets in “iron, iron, nothing but iron!”

To Haussmann, Baltard was a man of contradictory parts, an architect whose “talent, like his character, presented some singular contrasts.” On occasion, “this intransigent classicist by birth . . . this knowledgeable and faithful imitator of past masterpieces,” showed glimmers of originality as a “decorator full of imagination and taste.” Yet Baltard’s regard for an artist’s prerogatives put him at odds with the hierarchy of a municipal bureaucracy and made him at best a “functionary in spite of himself.” In a closing barb, Haussmann regretted that the architect’s “character as a whole . . . lent itself poorly to sympathetic abandon, to generous transports, to [the] disinterested self-sacrifice” that the prefect expected from his employees.38 Because he was academically trained, Baltard seemed ill equipped to grasp the progressive industrial potential and urban scope of the markets and so had to be forced to act. As Baltard’s other critics implied when they accused him of plagiarizing the projects of Flachat and Horeau, the job seemed better suited to an engineer, or at least to an architect who recognized the need to forsake classicism’s aesthetic conventions and reinvent architecture according to quantitative criteria of economy, structure, and function.

This portrait justifies the conclusions reached by Van Zanten and Pinon that Baltard was an architect of “unresolved juxtapositions” and “bricolage.” But defining Baltard by the supposed contradictions between his academic training and his principal work is as limiting historically as identifying the Central Markets as uniquely utilitarian products of industry and planning. Just as the markets have been rehistoricized in studies that look beyond clichés of utility to recover their actually complex urban development, so the circumstances of Baltard’s professional training, experience, and career must be reconsidered before any conclusions are drawn about his role, conservative or otherwise, in a history of nineteenth-century French architecture and urbanism. The issue needs to be rephrased, from the negative assumption that Baltard, despite his technical expertise, lacked the requisite depth of intellect to conceptualize the markets, to an acceptance of the possibility that he did possess that depth, for the simple reason that he proved this as their architect. The question in this case is no longer whether Baltard should be credited with the markets’ design but rather what he meant as their architect when he insisted that, having conceived their frankly industrial metal structure, he had always preferred a “reasoned combination of stone . . . and iron.”

Engineers and Architects

The engineer’s challenge to the architect was already an established truism by the start of the nineteenth century. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, professor of architecture at the École polytechnique, lectured that “architects are not the only ones who construct edifices; engineers of every class . . . frequently experience this obligation; one could even add that at present engineers have more occasions to carry out large undertakings than do architects.”39 By midcentury, architects as otherwise opposed as the Gothicist Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and the classicist Charles Garnier could voice remarkably similar concerns about the need to maintain skills now claimed by engineers. If Garnier protested the modern scission of the once-unified classical art of architecture, while Viollet-le-Duc looked ahead to the reconvergence of architecture and engineering according to Gothic principles of structure, both resisted the architect’s professional restriction to what Viollet-le-Duc called “the functions of a designer-decorator.”40

As Antoine Picon explains in French Architects and Engineers in the Age of Enlightenment, the two professions were informed by basic conceptual differences between architecture’s classical theories of convenance, or propriety, and engineering’s rational theories of utility.41 Applying the physics of Newton and the calculus of both Newton and Leibnitz, engineers rationalized the art of architecture as the science of building, replacing traditional notions of stability, based in perception, with a modern notion of construction, based on mathematical calculation. The architect’s design of visually coherent forms, shaped by artistic intuition and validated by historic experience, was countered by the engineer’s rational analysis of programmatic factors, ordered by technology and determined by natural laws. By the end of the eighteenth century, it was possible in theory to comprehend architecture either in traditional terms, as the physically discrete and self-contained object, or in modern terms, as a rationalized process of form production. This difference is measured in the distance from the mid-eighteenth-century teaching of Jacques-François Blondel at the Académie d’architecture to Durand’s instruction at the École polytechnique a half century later (fig. 7): Blondel’s classical ideal of unity, of a coherently hierarchical subordination of the parts to the whole, is rethought in Durand’s descriptive geometry and diagrammatic grids to become the systematic assembling of repetitive units.42 To be sure, Durand’s compositional method preserved analogies to classical proportions, justifying his own continued loyalty to the language of classicism and obscuring his threat to architecture’s customary conception as a closed system of design. Yet his diagrams anticipated the shift, realized at midcentury in works like the Crystal Palace and the Central Markets, from making a singular object to the process of production itself, in which the part became as important as the whole.

The alternatives between architecture and engineering remained more potential than actual in the eighteenth century, when the practices of architects and engineers continued to overlap. Eighteenth-century building treatises like Jean-Baptiste Rondelet’s Traité théorique et pratique de l’art de bâtir (1802) still considered materials and structures in mostly empirical terms of experience that were as accessible to architects as to engineers. After 1820, however, engineering’s differences from architecture became increasingly explicit. In 1824, Louis Navier, a professor at the École des ponts et chaussées, published one of the first mathematically specialized texts on the science of statics, L’application de la mécanique à l’établissement des constructions et des machines. Importing technology developed in England, France began using cast-iron columns and beams for shop windows and commercial arcades in the 1820s; rolled and wrought iron in L and T sections became available during the same decade, while I sections were first used in 1845 by Eugène Flachat for the construction of railroad sheds. Between 1837 and 1853, the engineers Camille Polonceau and Flachat exploited both the compressive strength of cast iron and the tensile qualities of wrought iron to develop a variety of triangular truss frames that revolutionized the ability to span large spaces with economically light and standardized structures.43

The scientific and technological thinking that rationalized building also rationalized space and in the process extended the engineer’s domain from individual structures to entire cities, territories, and countries. Picon observes that eighteenth-century cartography replaced the “traditional space” of human experience with the geometric abstraction of a “quantified universe,” which both obliterated distance through measurement and equated that measurement with time.44 Space could now be instrumentalized, by coordinating the mapping of a city or a territory with such modern tools of state control as statistics and taxation.45 Paul Rabinow notes that statistics, formulated in the early nineteenth century as a “‘science of facts’ concerned with collecting the data of civil society,” was itself a form of mapping: “the invention of statistical tools dependent on and made possible through a conception of social regularity, which could be mapped along a continuum from the normal to the pathological, represented an important shift in social understanding.”46 Tools like statistics translated the eighteenth-century Enlightenment project of rationality into the nineteenth-century project of industrialization and produced the utopian socialism of Saint-Simon and his followers from the 1820s onward. Without the idealism but with an ideology of science and technology fully intact, Saint-Simonian bankers, financiers, and railroad magnates would fund Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris.47

The model of circulation was one way to rationalize space. Eighteenth-century medical science, attributing disease to the infectious properties of bad air, applied the physiology of human circulation to the problem of public health and prescribed the free circulation of air as the best antiseptic.48 Hygiene configured the modern city as coordinated systems of circulation: of air, water, people, vehicles, and goods, whose well-being could be analyzed and quantified in simultaneously physical, economic, and social terms.49 Cholera epidemics, which struck Paris in 1832, 1847, 1848, and 1849, encouraged the physical and social modernization of the city, with Saint-Simonian theorists leading the way.50 Complementing the instrumental mapping of society, the circulatory theory of hygiene assumed the skills of engineers to build the roads, bridges, quays, sewers, and water systems needed for a healthy city. Reconceived as open-ended systems of circulation, this modernized city would be extended into and integrated with the rest of the country through the national system of railroads legislated in 1842.51

By 1853, the scientific, technological, economic, and industrial pieces were all in place for the transformation of Paris. Entering into office, Haussmann was given as his starting point an imperial plan with new streets marked in colors by Napoléon III.52 Logically, the first step was to send surveyors out to triangulate the city, reducing the historical and physical complexity of Paris to a tidy grid of coordinates. To translate this survey back into the practical realities of street clearances, parks, water, sewage, and gas lines, Haussmann depended less on architects proper than on his municipal engineers and surveyors, the architectes-voyers for whom “geometry and drafting played a more important role than architecture properly speaking.”53 The prefect’s classicizing sensibilities, the axial streets and connecting squares of his plan, were at best a gloss on his resolutely practical outlook: “For us, in the appreciation of a public undertaking, utility beats magnificence.”54 To him, the city was not a work of art but an economic work of industry where the efficiency of systems overrode the beauty of appearances.55 Haussmann saw the city primarily as a technical process to be regulated, not as a historical object to be shaped: if history and its architectural correlate, the monument, had a continued role to play, it was exceptional, something to be set apart in majestic isolation like the cathedral of Notre-Dame or the Opéra.56 The Central Markets are immediately understood in the prefect’s utilitarian terms. Built with industrial materials, the pavilions fell outside the customary definition and practice of architecture as a historical discourse expressed through conventional forms, to constitute instead a rational space of surveillance and circulation, where goods could both be inspected and exchanged in properly hygienic conditions as part of a program of social control in an explosively growing city. Less a traditional building than an urban system, the markets consequently shared with the larger city the same diffusion of boundaries through transportation networks.

Like the emperor’s command in 1853 to redesign the Central Markets as iron “umbrellas,” Haussmann’s approach to Paris exposed the architect’s tenuous position when it came to realizing the modern city: someone else, an engineer, could do the job just as well, if not better. Victor Baltard’s uncertain reputation is an extreme instance of the trivialization that nineteenth-century architects generally seemed to suffer in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.57 It would, however, be a mistake to conclude that architects were unwilling or unable to acknowledge the changes brought about by the utilitarian and technological thinking practiced so confidently by contemporary engineers. Binary oppositions of engineering, science, and rationalism to architecture, aesthetics, and historical memory fail to consider how an architect like Baltard actually practiced his profession, integrating through his work contradictions that only become irreconcilable when abstracted as a dialectics of progress. Architectural education and practice alike had been absorbing new theories of social and industrial progress since the eighteenth century, with the result that, by the 1840s, architects had formulated the means to address society’s utilitarian needs even while they upheld their discipline’s aesthetic objectives.

Pierre Baltard was an early proponent of utility in architecture. Even if he is now remembered for the Palais de Justice in Lyon (1828–46), whose Neoclassical façade of twenty-four Corinthian columns echoed his conservative pronouncements at the École des Beaux-Arts as its professor of theory (1818–46), Baltard started out in 1794 as Durand’s predecessor at the École polytechnique.58 Charged with reporting on prisons as a member of the Conseil des bâtiments civils in 1813–18 and appointed architect of prisons for the Department of the Seine in those same years, Pierre Baltard drew as much on theories of penal reform and panopticon design as on classical models when drawing up the plans he published in the Architectonographie des prisons (1829).59 His position as a municipal architect assigned to the markets of Paris in 1831–36, anticipating his son’s appointment a decade later, engaged him in equivalently practical tasks.

In the next generation, a string of younger architects focused systematically on the architectural consequences of both utilitarian programs and new building technologies. Émile Gilbert, who started at the École polytechnique before completing his education at the École des Beaux-Arts, kept to a simplified classical language indebted to Durand and executed in stone. But over the course of a career running from the 1830s through the 1860s, he incorporated current theories of penal, mental, and medical science into the design of a prison, an insane asylum, a morgue, a prefecture of police, and a hospital.60 Abel Blouet, succeeding Pierre Baltard at the École des Beaux-Arts (1846–53), updated Rondelet’s Traité théorique et pratique de l’art de bâtir by analyzing new materials, especially iron, in a two-volume Supplément (1847–48): “our purpose has been to show what effect the use of different materials and their combination can have on architectural forms.”61 François Jäy, Pierre Baltard’s son-in-law, who taught construction at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1824 until 1864, regularly considered industrial materials in his courses as they became available: his three-year, seven-part course on construction presented cast iron, wrought iron, steel, and other metals in part two, on materials; part three, on preparing those materials for use in architecture; part four, on structural elements; and part five, on building types.62 And Léonce Reynaud, Durand’s successor at the École polytechnique (1836–66) as well as architect of the first Gare du Nord in Paris (1845–47), published his two-volume Traité d’architecture (1850–58) with a similar purpose of correcting the omissions in Durand’s Précis des leçons, announcing enthusiastically in the Traité’s first volume: “For the new material [of iron] being offered to us, we will need new forms and new proportions, because it differs essentially from all others used until now. What was appropriate to stone could not in any way be appropriate to iron. There is therefore, in this industrial fact, the principle, not of a complete renovation of art, but of new elements, of a new branch.”63 In the second volume, Reynaud praised Baltard for realizing just such a “new element” at the Central Markets.64

Victor Baltard’s realization of the Central Markets was not the extraordinary accomplishment for an academically trained architect that Haussmann would have us believe. Baltard’s education as much as the general evolution of architectural practice and theory in France since the eighteenth century had equipped him with the ideas and skills needed to undertake such a project. That he was only doing what any number of his contemporaries might have done cannot diminish his qualifications; accusations of who plagiarized whom miss the point that every professional architect or engineer, from Flachat to Horeau to Baltard, had equal access to a common set of nineteenth-century conditions and preparation. Baltard proved his ability both through the design itself and through his efficient cooperation with the Joly ironworks in calculating and producing the standardized elements of the markets’ metal structure. While not groundbreaking, the construction of the Central Markets made intelligent use of recently developed materials and building systems. The conjunction of cast-iron columns with a predominantly wrought-iron roofing structure took advantage of sheet-iron trellis girders, available only since 1845, in tandem with I-section beams and spandrel brackets to link the structure together and limit the use of tensioning tie-rods to stabilize the two-story lantern that spanned the thirty-meter-wide central nave. Even Haussmann acknowledged that the result, simplifying the structural clutter found overhead in contemporary train sheds, emphasized a new continuity of architectural space by opening up the interiors visually.65

This formal objective, rather than Baltard’s technical competence, is paradoxically why his design of the markets has been subject to such enduring skepticism. As the architect admitted, he was not satisfied with the markets’ utilitarian premise:

What a central provisioning market requires is the easy circulation of vehicles and pedestrians; spaces proportioned to deliveries; vast shelters where air without the inconvenience of wind, and light without the heat of the sun, penetrate everywhere.

Many markets of Paris more or less answer these conditions; but it can perhaps be regretted that, under the heading of art and embellishment, a more elevated taste did not preside over their general layout as well as the form of their details. It has been claimed that this excessive simplicity was determined by the question of money. But who does not know that in architecture there is always a way to vary the physiognomy of objects, to impress on buildings without great expense the cachet of art and taste, even with the simplest forms? In any case, halles and markets are public establishments. They must be, in appearance as in reality, solid and durable constructions. There is an economy to such a system, but a well-understood economy, an economy for the future.66

He reiterated this point in his supplement to the Monographie: “a public edifice, whatever its use might be, for the very reason that it is public, must present a certain dignity of form, must go beyond the vulgarity of its material nature.”67 What interested architects and made them argue as much among themselves as with rival professions were the aesthetic consequences of the scientific, technological, and industrial phenomena affecting architecture in the nineteenth century. Baltard—like Blouet, Jäy, and Reynaud—accepted the “industrial fact of iron” not as an end in itself but rather as part of a more general argument for the ongoing modernization of the classical tradition in France: speaking to the tensions confronting architects between tradition and modernity, Baltard’s rhetorical insistence on the architectural conjunction of stone and iron articulated their shared desire to reground the disruptive conditions of utilitarian programs and industrial structures in deeper patterns of historical artistic development.

Architects like Lefuel, at the Louvre, or Garnier, at the Opéra, tempered the challenges of modernity by designing state monuments whose appearance, if not structural fact, preserved the illusion that architecture might remain a representationally stable art informed by tradition and unaffected by industrial change.68 The municipal town halls, churches, and theaters built by Baltard’s colleagues in the Prefecture of the Seine likewise concealed their use of modern materials and structures behind typically Neo-Romanesque or Neo-Renaissance façades.69 In exposing his use of iron, not only at the Central Markets but also at Saint-Augustin, Baltard avoided this subterfuge and looked instead to the precedent of Henri Labrouste’s Sainte-Geneviève Library (figs. 8, 9). The first public building in Paris to boast a revealed iron structure behind its masonry shell, this library proposed a way to recognize modernity without denying history, join science to art, and mediate the abstract techniques of rationalism with a concern for traditional forms.70 Bringing together stone and iron into a coherent architectural expression, Labrouste rebutted Victor Hugo’s argument in Notre-Dame de Paris (1832) that modern technology had reduced architecture to a state of culturally mute utility.71 Granted, Labrouste acknowledged the erosions effected by modernity, stripping the library’s exterior to a structural minimum and then inscribing it with names as if the façade were a printed page for the newly literate public. But like Baltard after him, Labrouste meant to bridge the gap opened up in the nineteenth century between crafting an individual monument in the classical sense and ordering the elements of industrial production in the modern sense.

Labrouste’s library provided the conceptual foundation to Baltard’s first executed design for the Central Markets, which analogously slipped a cast-iron structure inside a stabilizing masonry shell. He then transgressed this solution in his final project. Looking at the pavilions (fig. 10), it is still possible to see a schematic similarity to Labrouste’s library in the arcuated bays screened opaquely at their base with brick walls and opened translucently above with louvers and frosted glass. Yet the similarity makes it even more apparent how foreign the markets were in their spatial diffusion and material ephemerality to the sense of lithic containment and legibility that, for all of its radical modernity, continued to present Labrouste’s library in reassuringly traditional terms. With only Paxton’s Crystal Palace of two years earlier to provide a point of reference, the Central Markets had apparently stepped beyond the very history of architecture that Baltard believed in and meant to effect in his practice.

A History of Baltard’s City

This paradox is why we still accept Haussmann’s portrayal of Baltard as little more than a technician instructed to carry out the ideas of others who, like the prefect, were better prepared to seize upon modernity’s imperatives. Such a portrayal can only be answered with a detailed, if necessarily modest, history of the immediate circumstances of architectural practice in the nineteenth century, as those circumstances are documented by one architect’s work over the course of his professional career. Baltard’s design of the markets should be considered, not as the reflection of an ideologically fixed position, either for or against modernity, but as the result of his ongoing accommodation to the developing city of Paris and its effects on architecture. Against Haussmann’s metanarrative of master plans and transformation, Baltard’s career offers a case study of the actually diffuse historical process that, between 1840 and 1870, incrementally produced modern Paris.

Organized topically by chapters that study specific historical issues over time, this book reconstructs the complexity of Baltard’s career, not as a single synchronous whole, but in diachronic pieces that record the multiple, daily synchronies of professional practice that came together in his work. Chapter 2, “Classicism and the Architect’s Education,” ties Baltard’s academic formation, from his training at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de France in the 1820s and 1830s through his activities as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in the 1860s, to the nineteenth-century reformulation of classical doctrine in response to contemporary Romantic theories of art and history. Chapter 3, “Representing Paris,” documents Baltard’s complementary bureaucratic formation as a municipal architect from the 1840s through the 1860s, identifying not only the language of civic architecture he helped articulate during those decades but also the forces of political, social, and industrial change that undermined architecture’s traditional codes of representation and shifted its justification from functional to urban typologies of monumental public and private domestic building. Chapter 4, “Decorated Construction,” takes up a subject raised in previous chapters to consider how Baltard, responding to the fatal separation of ornament from structure posited in Romantic theory, treated decoration as a discursively contingent exegesis on the historically mutable uses of buildings in the city. Chapter 5, “An Urban History of the Central Markets,” locates Baltard’s pivotal role in the project within concentrically narrowing fields of administrative regulation, urban planning, and architectural design, in order to connect his conception of the markets as integrated works of urban architecture both to the city’s historic patterns of development and to its modernization in the nineteenth century. Chapter 6, “Housing the City,” compares Baltard’s church of Saint-Augustin with the Central Markets to demonstrate how these functionally distinct buildings were informed by their common identity as works of urban architecture, which were therefore treated interchangeably as decorated sheds that interiorized the city and its spaces beneath great sheltering roofs. This final chapter concludes with an epilogue on interpreting Victor Baltard’s work in terms of the typological reading of the city proposed by Aldo Rossi and Anthony Vidler.

Deeply invested in the traditions of his art, Baltard was brought by experience and his own intelligence to adjust the inherited paradigms to new criteria of municipal administration, urban planning, and building technology. Two concerns run through his practice, connecting in a single body of work projects otherwise as varied as the industrial Central Markets, the Neo-Renaissance annexes to city hall, the alterations and additions to the medieval church of Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles, and the eclectic church of Saint-Augustin: first, the attempt to derive a coherent architecture from conditions of urban siting and context at a time when the city’s accelerating physical and social changes were calling into question the functional conventions of Beaux Arts composition; and second, the attempt to formulate an architectural language able to carry architecture’s historical burden of representation at a time when technological innovation had severely compromised the classical idea of decoration as the inherent expression of a building’s structural order. Out of this came an urban architecture that mediated the differences produced by modernity between the historic city and its nineteenth-century transformation, including its translation from a city of stone into one of iron. Baltard would prove at once stubbornly determined and remarkably patient in his effort to grasp modernity and its effects on architecture from all sides, confusing conservative and progressive critics alike with his willingness to expose the contradictions of his age in a sequence of works that looked back to the past and forward to the future simultaneously.

As Charles Garnier recognized, this left Baltard vulnerable to misinterpretation, particularly when it came to defining the content—both technical and aesthetic—of his architectural work. Not everyone, however, accepted the testimony of Haussmann. Writing to Auguste Perret in December 1915 to ask his advice on compiling an “album” comparing the architectural progress of France and Germany, Le Corbusier cited Baltard’s church of Saint-Augustin as one of a few noteworthy French precedents to contemporary architecture. He went on to ask, “Where are the masters? Where is the vital line of transmission?”72 A month later, Perret answered:

The important buildings, marking definitive dates in the history of nineteenth-century architecture, are few, but their value is decisive with respect to the point we want to make. There is [Henri Labrouste’s 1869] reading room of the National Library; the Central Markets; [Jean Viel’s 1855] Palace of Industry; [Jean Formigé’s] Palace of Fine and Liberal Arts at the 1889 Exposition . . . at the same exposition [Ferdinand Dutert’s] Gallery of Machines certainly. The church of Saint-Augustin of which you speak and which presents us with the first great dome of iron is not in my opinion as important as the Central Markets by the same architect (Victor Baltard).73

Le Corbusier and Perret differed on the value of Saint-Augustin relative to that of the Central Markets yet agreed that Baltard figured prominently in any history of modern French architecture. Perret, who was born in 1874 and had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, possessed like Garnier an intuitive understanding of Baltard’s significance. More surprising, perhaps, is Le Corbusier’s reciprocal respect for the architect, until one realizes that his question to Perret was rhetorical: the “vital line of transmission” he sought was actually a pedagogical filiation of education and training well known to both architects. It went back five generations to Victor Baltard, who taught Charles Garnier at the École, who trained Julien Guadet in the Opéra construction office, who taught Auguste Perret at the École, who trained Le Corbusier in his office.

Le Corbusier’s correspondence with Perret shows him trying to determine his historical relationship to the nineteenth-century city and its architects in advance of his own projects for remaking Paris, most notably by razing and then rebuilding with a grid of cruciform towers much of the Right Bank, including the Central Markets, in his Voisin Plan of 1925. Anthony Vidler, in an essay on “posturbanism” illustrated with an image of the Central Markets’ demolition, suggests that “urbanism . . . might be defined as the instrumental theory and practice of constructing the city as a memorial of itself” and traces its history from the sixteenth-century plan of Sixtus V for Rome to the nineteenth-century transformation of Paris under Haussmann and from there to its modernist rethinking by Le Corbusier in the twentieth century. But where the Renaissance “perspective city proposed a delicate balance between . . . the city as such and its monuments,” the “figure-ground city of modernism was founded on erasure” in an act of forgetting: “Such a forgetting would, in Le Corbusier’s case, take the form of erasure, literal and figural, of the city itself, in favor of a tabula rasa that reinstalled nature as a foundation for a dispersed urbanism and made its monuments out of the functions of modern life—the bureaucratic skyscrapers.”74 The Central Markets, by turning a medieval quarter of Paris into a rational grid of industrial metal sheds, prefigured Le Corbusier’s projected erasure of the city in the 1920s. While Perret, however, did not hesitate to recognize the markets in a genealogy of modernist architecture and urbanism, Le Corbusier’s counterintuitive selection of Saint-Augustin speaks to a more ambiguous and ambivalent interpretation of the markets’ relevance. His preference for the overtly monumental church over the supposedly utilitarian markets was less a statement of categorical differences between these works than it was a critical indication of their fundamental similarity as products of the Industrial Revolution that were nonetheless deeply indebted to the city’s historical form. In seeking to preserve the historically “delicate balance” between a city and its monuments, the markets as much as the church resisted the very process of erasure that, through the instrument of Haussmann’s urban renewal of Paris, had paradoxically made their construction possible in the first place and prepared the way in turn for Le Corbusier’s urbanism.

These ambiguities perhaps explain why Le Corbusier soon lost interest in the church and markets alike, erasing both from Paris with his Voisin Plan, and why Sigfried Giedion was then so harsh in his 1928 judgment of Baltard as an architect who “laboriously had to patch his buildings together from the ideas of others.” Now, however, the polemics of modernism have come to seem as archaic as the nineteenth-century’s experiments with industrial building seemed to Le Corbusier and his contemporaries in the 1920s. The demolition of the Central Markets in 1971—justified by a plan for the second transformation of Paris in the 1960s and 1970s according to Le Corbusier’s principles of towers, green spaces, zoning, and expressways—marked a historical turning point reflected in the methodological shift found in Françoise Boudon’s investigation of the Halles in the Système de l’architecture urbaine and paralleled by the theoretical formulation of a typological city by Rossi and Vidler.75 Looking back on both the nineteenth- and the twentieth-century cities from the perspective of Vidler’s “posturbanism,” we are less taken with heroic narratives of instrumental planning than interested in the diffuse and finely grained historical process by which a city is produced through the material, social, and ideological interactions of multiple individuals over time. This inclusive and necessarily tentative approach to the city complicates any history of the “vital line of transmission” connecting Baltard to Le Corbusier. But in positing a more comprehensive, if less linear, method for understanding how architects contribute to making the city, such a history might identify Baltard alongside more canonic figures like Henri Labrouste and Viollet-le-Duc as a seminal participant in architecture’s nineteenth-century reformulation in response simultaneously to the material possibilities of the Industrial Revolution and to the urban conditions that, by 1870, had made Paris into a capital of modernity.

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