|Death of Eponine, from the novel|
Urban historians have shown that one of the reasons for the redesign of Paris was to make it harder for protesters to seize the streets and block them with barricades, as in the final part of Les Misérables. The death of Eponine, at the barricade, was illustrated in the original novel, and it is a big scene in the play and movie. The uprising in Victor Hugo's novel took place in 1832 (the novelist experienced that event first hand). There had been an earlier protest in 1830, and then the most successful of these contentious events was the 1848 revolution.
|Death of Eponine (Samanta Barks), from the movie|
So, how did Haussmann's new plan of Paris help reduce protest in the streets? First of all, the new wide, straight streets made it harder for protesters to block off neighborhoods with barricades. Also, the wide boulevards made it easier for troops to move from one area to another quickly in case of a rebellion. The railway stations, one of the most important kinds of transportation infrastructure in the 19th century, were the origin points of many of the boulevards. This allowed troops to be moved into place efficiently by train and then dispatched to problem areas.
The urban histories (see the bibliography in my original post) note that the 1871 rebellion (the "Paris Commune") was quickly put down, in part because of the military advantages of Haussmann's redesign. But the 1832 uprising of the students and immigrants (sometimes called the "June Rebellion") was also quashed pretty quickly, as in the novel.
|The movie barricade|
See my earlier post for more on the redesign of Paris. And who knew that Russell Crowe could sing?