Plan du peripherique parisien les portes

City of Headlights: the network du controlled-access highways planned pour Paris in thé 1960s

Over thé past few issues, we’ve to be looking at transport projects in the parisien region that oui never materialised. So far we’ve to be focused conditions météorologiques futuristic ferroviaire projects: the Aérotrain hovertrain, thé Aramis an individual rapid transit system, et the SK people mover. Pour today’s article, we’re feather at a an innovation that’s much more mundane, but at least ont disruptive: thé motorway.

In recent years, in the face à face of the twin situations of globale warming and air pollution, municipalities across thé world, et especially in Europe, ont taken steps venir reduce thé place du the exclusive car. Taking inspiration from cities to the north (like Copenhagen et Amsterdam) et south (like Madrid et Barcelona), parisien has made super strides in this direction. But things were different in auto mid-20th century, when thé private car was seen not oui dirty, dangerous et damaging to auto environment, but oui a an excellent liberator.

Vous lisez ce: Plan du peripherique parisien les portes

As western leurope  got back nous its feet after the seconde World War et entered what thé French appel téléphonique the Trente Glorieuses – thirty glorious years of economic growth et important enhancements in living normes – the motorcar came to be affordable parce que le working-class français families. Above models like auto Citroën 2CV and the Renault 4 combined with a prolonged period of low oil prices à make driving accessible to année ever-growing num of people.

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thé iconic Renault 4 helped à democratise là ownership in France.
Allen Watkin passant par Flickr

Accompanying the huit in car ownership was année inevitable surge in roadbuilding. During the postwar period, many de France’s arterial autoroutes were built jaune planned, greatly linking paris to surtout provincial cities. At auto same time, urban transportation plan was becoming an ext car-focused. This had begun antérieur à the war, v most of the parisien region’s tramway ripped up in the 1930s, but continued in earnest in the 50s et 60s.

The boulevard périphérique, first touted in thé 1940s, was opened up in step from 1966 to 1973. In 1967, the la petite rue Georges-Pompidou, a one-way motorway on the right bank of auto Seine, to be inaugurated. Soon thereafter, thé Voie montré Rive Gauche, that is westbound counterpart nous a section de the left bank, to be completed. But these were seulement the start ns a much an ext comprehensive plan, pour a everyone takeover of the city central with controlled-access highways.

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thé "périph" near auto Porte d"Aubervilliers.
Guilhem Vellut passant par Flickr

Plan autoroutier pour Paris

As it stands, the environ is already very quartier général for such a major motorway: cette forms a circle around half the diameter of that formed de London’s North and South one roads. Through 4 lanes in each la gestion for most de its length, that is throughput is likewise considerably higher: it’s one ns Europe’s busiest urban motorways. Et until the pedestrianisation in 2016, the la petite rue Georges-Pompidou brought traffic best into the heart du the city, metres far from auto historic Île aux la Cité.

But the voie Georges-Pompidou was never ever intended à be unique. à la a start, the Voie montré Rive gauche (which seulement un ever reached a length de 2.5 km) to be meant à run along the entire left bank. Marqué the plan devised in the 1960s, well-known simply as the “plan autoroutier convecteur Paris” (“motorway destinées for Paris”), go much further than that.

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The la petite rue Georges-Pompidou in 2014.
HerrAdams via Wikimedia Commons

Central to the destiné was a north-south axis from auto Porte d’Aubervilliers to the Porte d’Italie. This roadway would ont filled in the canaliser Saint-Martin, moving 4 or 5 lanes in each direction. Ce would enable traffic from auto north venir flow towards the south of france without having venir use thé périphérique, et without encountering a seul at-grade intersection.

In its centre section, thé axe Nord-Sud would certainly form auto eastern aller of année inner ring road, ensemble with a roadway along the southern boulevards that once formed part de the wall du the Farmers-General; a largely underground roadway linking Montparnasse et Saint-Lazare; et a deep bored sous-sol, cave completing the circle at the Gare ns l’Est.

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In red: existing motorways and expressways; in purple: motorways to plan at auto time external Paris; in blue: motorways ns the plan (light blue partie are underground; thinner lines stand for one-way sections).
aménagements map by ThePromenader; roads of the destiné added par Yougo and edited par Benjamin Chadwick

Many de the motorways that now terminate at the périphérie (A3, A6a, A6b, A13) were périmé to be extended beyond it to sign up with this new orbital, together with others that, in the event, never made it to auto edge de Paris (A10, A15, A16). Since these were intended venir be bona fide motorways, all junctions would be grade-separated. Auto project would oui seen the complete transformation de squares like the Place ns la Bastille, auto Place aux la Bataille-de-Stalingrad and the place d’Italie, and the confinements of many other new interchanges, some ns them underground, à connect the new roads v each other et with local streets.

Unsurprisingly given auto density ns Paris, the project would oui been incredibly destructive. à make way à la a leg in the west, auto rather magnificent passerelle Rouelle would oui been demolished (at auto time, this leg wasn’t in use, marqué today cette carries the sortie C). In preparation parce que le the radiale Vercingétorix – connecting Montparnasse et the new ring roadway with thé A10 native Bordeaux – buildings along the boulevard Vercingétorix in reality were bulldozed, while année engineering school seul outside the city was moved to thé distant suburb ns Gif-sur-Yvette à make way for the extended autoroute.

But the bulk of the planned destruction was in the east de the city. In the affluent 7th and 16th arrondissements in thé west, much de the planned advance was underground. But in the less well-to-do east half of the city, auto axe Nord-Sud would not only ont deprived locals ns the canal Saint-Martin, cible also ruined thousands ns homes. The radiale du Bagnolet, which would connect auto north-south road with auto A3 venir serve thé eastern suburbs, was even worse: rather than following any type of existing routes, ce was seul supposed venir smash its means through thé homes et shops ns the 11th et 20th arrondissements.

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The canal Saint-Martin would ont been destroyed à make way for the north-south axis.
Vince Duque via Unsplash

What went wrong?

When looking at a project ont dystopian as this, cette might be more pertinent venir ask how it to be allowed à get oui far as it did.

The idea behind thé project was venir allow traffic à move quickly et smoothly through thé city. Marqué more most likely than not, the roads would certainly soon have been oui clogged up ont the rue principale périphérique (which has actually a speed limit de 70 km/h but sees mean speeds de less 보다 40). Planners aujourdhui see traffic oui behaving more like a gas than a liquid: thanks à induced demand, it will expand to fill thé space ce is given.

All those extra petrol and diesel fumes in auto city central would have been effrayante for the air Parisians breathe. No amount de sound protection would have blocked out toutes les personnes the extra noise from auto roads’ cars, which unlike passenger former would run all night. And since most of the new highways to be expected to run conditions météorologiques the surface, acre of pays would have been cleared parce que le them, damaging homes, greenery, and space parce que le pedestrians and cyclists à move around.

Another super problem v at-grade motorways, in typical with railways, is the they cleave neighborhoods in two. In the United States, castle often phat the role de walls ns racial segregation. In Paris, some of the poorest neighbourhoods endure from these barriers – ns Chapelle is sandwiched between two heavy chemin de fer lines, while countless areas conditions météorologiques the edge de the city are cut off de the périphérique on one side et the boulevards des maréchal (not a motorway, cible wide, busy et hard venir cross) nous the other.

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So how did this project comprendre so far? We’ve already mentioned the prevailing ideology ns the day, i beg your pardon was certainly a great deal an ext pro-car than today. Cible even in auto 1960s, most locals hated this destinées – not seul the personnes who to be destined venir lose your homes, but tous those that knew auto roads would diminish your quality du life. Indeed, the masculin council voted unanimously against ce in January 1966.

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george Pompidou was known parce que le his love of cars, both personally (he had a Porsche) et politically.

The problem is, there to be something ns a democratic deficit in thé Paris ns the time. à la most of the city’s post-Revolution history, ce had to be the seul commune in la france without a mayor: many policy to be dictated to ce from the quartier général government. A mayor, cette was thought, would host too much power and threaten thé stability de the Republic. Et in the corridors of intérieur power, car were the future. George Pompidou, composants minister in auto 1960s and president in thé early 1970s, is remembered pour his association with auto politics de tout-voiture: dependence conditions météorologiques the car at all costs. “We have to adapt parisien both to the lives ns Parisians and to auto needs of the automobile”, cette said in a speech de 1971; in light ns his pursuit of car-friendly policies, this has actually been remembered passant par many as “we need to adapt parisien to thé car”.

I’d like to think the failure ns this nightmarish vision du Paris to be inevitable, but a look around thé world makes je question that assumption. Across the Atlantic, sprawling cities prefer Houston et Los Angeles ont until very recently oriented themselves practically entirely around auto private car. Feather east, many du the hutongs ns Beijing ont been bulldozed venir make way parce que le wide, congested boulevards, a pattern replicated in cities throughout China. Haricot de soja what stopped parisien from going auto same way?

Perfect timing

As thé 1960s gave method to the 1970s, auto political et economic see was moving gradually cible decisively far from policies like this.

One blow came in peut faire 1968, once a wave of student protests prompted a nationwide général strike and fears du a revolution. The protests had actually their roots in anticapitalism, marqué served ont a catalyst for a number of est différent movements, consisting of calls for nuclear disarmament, sex-related liberation and, notably parce que le our story, environmentalism. In this context, the nouveau roads looked progressively politically untenable.

By the late 1960s, grand urban redevelopment schemes ns the type that destroyed historic neighbourhoods and replaced them with concrete were met with enhancing hostility passant par the citizens ns France. In this context, a national urbanism law in 1967 created a wide range of nouveau rights et responsibilities à la local governments. In particular, it allowed them à set up new urban to plan agencies. The apporter council of Paris created Apur. One of this new body’s early dossiers concerned auto proposed north-south axis. In a report ns 1971, they doubted its effectiveness parce que le transportation and concluded that ce would conveniently reach capacity, when reducing top quality of first through aviation and noise pollution, auto removal du trees and the création of a nouveau barrier. Conditions météorologiques 15 December du that year, auto project to be scrapped.

The prochain roadblock come in October 1973, in the shape of an oil crisis that would certainly come à be connected with auto end du the Trente Glorieuses, for its profound effect conditions météorologiques the global economy. Auto oil price increase – fourfold in less than six months – substantially impacted car sales et prompted calls to encourager other mode of transport. This situation would additionally be blamed for the abandonment ns Aérotrain.

In April 1974, georges Pompidou, aged 62 and still in office, died of a rare type of cancer. The subsequent president, valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was less of année autophile than his predecessor, and more pertained to with preserving the city’s heritage. His ascede put auto majority du the projects venir bed.

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Jacques Chirac, the tons mayor ns Paris after the office was recreated in 1977, put an end to auto last staying road from the plan autoroutier.

A question marque continued à hang over the extension of auto A10 from auto southern suburbs venir Montparnasse. Work conditions météorologiques this had currently begun, marqué stalled in 1972 in the face à face of strong local opposition. The definitive end of the proposal came in 1977, thanks à the creation of auto role ns mayor of Paris et the election of Jacques Chirac, that would remain at the Hôtel du Ville till his move to the Élysée in 1995. One of his first tasks was venir sign this project’s death warrant.

What remains ns the plan?

Today, thé banks of the le sien in centre Paris oui been given back à pedestrians. While auto political appropriate was opposed à their closure to traffic, no principale mayoral candidat in this year municipal voter has proposed convert them back. East du the bassin du l’Arsenal, however, a two-way trunk road remains, extending auto A4 to the edge of the 4th arrondissement.

Few traces remain du the rest ns the plan. Where buildings were cleared follow me the boulevard Vercingétorix, a séries of auditeur gardens oui been installed. Elsewhere, the seulement un testament to auto roads is their absence.

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The square Abbé-Lemire is one de a series de gardens created passant par preparatory demolition work pour the aborted Vercingétorix motorway.

The terre of an old military hospital near the Gare aux l’Est to be meant to be used ont a sous-sol, cave portal et interchange, but thanks to thé project’s cancellation it instead came to be a park: the page web Villemin. The various roundabouts the were once destined to turn into huge motorway junctions, like thé Place ns la Bastille and the carré d’Italie, are instead transitioning in thé opposite direction, with a reduction in traffic lanes.

In the 1960s, it probably didn’t look choose a bad idea venir destroy the canaliser Saint-Martin, which had seen its website traffic dwindle almost à zero and the factories et warehouses lining it fermer la porte down. Marqué today it’s end up being a colorful place, with tourist cruises nous the water et groups of picnickers conditions météorologiques the financial institutions in the lété evenings. In de nouveau sign of how tarif policy has moved since then, auto roads lining the canal on either à côté de are closed venir motor traffic on Sundays and public holidays, as part ns Paris Respire.

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Today, the canaliser Saint-Martin theatre host à bars, cafés and crowds ns locals enjoying auto view. The Exacompta stationery factory, calmer in operation, serves as a reminder ns the canalside"s commercial past.

The future

The déménageur against personal cars continuellement apace, with thé conversion de traffic lanes into bus et cycle lanes, the reorganisation of surtout junctions et even auto proposed redevelopment du the rue principale périphérique oui a much more typical metropolitan boulevard. This task would it is in immeasurably harder had auto plan autoroutier gone ahead. But thanks to the helping hand of public opposition, a growing awareness ns the risks of là reliance, et the timely dintervention of a globale political crisis, parisien was saved from thé chokehold de inner city freeways.

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This éléments is part of a series about thé transport that never ever was in Paris: view below pour links to the rest of the series. Et as Paris continues its urban conversion away from là dominance, elle can suppose a de nombreux more posts like this in the future. It is in sure to subscribe to email to update below.