This Paris Life

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Ask Miranda: Haussmann’s Paris

Question: How did Haussmann pay for the renovation of Paris?

Answer: I had to go to Wikipedia for this one because I didn’t know. After all things were not in good shape after the revolution! Wikipedia says Napoleon III, and engineers such as Michel Chevalier or entrepreneurs like the Pereire brothers, believed that society could be transformed and poverty reduced by economic voluntarism, according to which the government should play an important part in economic affairs. It took a strong or even authoritarian regime to encourage capitalists in launching important projects that would benefit society as a whole, and particularly the poor. The heart of the economic system was the banks, which at the time underwent considerable expansion. The renovations of Paris matched this political orientation perfectly. Haussmann’s projects would hence be decided and managed by the state, carried out by private entrepreneurs and financed with loans backed by the state.

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