The Industrial Revolution ushered Paris into the 19th century with
the advent of railroad transportation.
"It was the influence of the railways, more than any other
single agency, which gave the Victorian city its compact shape,
which influenced the topography and character of its central and
inner districts, the disposition of its dilapidated and waste areas,
and of its suburbs, the direction and character of its growth; and
which probably acted as the most potent new factor upon the urban
land market in the nineteenth century." (Schivelbusch 170)
Railway tracks were built in a radial pattern, centered around
Paris. This "reinforced the importance of the capital"
and encouraged its rapid growth - it was nearly impossible to get
from one spot to the next without passing through Paris. Railway
transportation also made it much easier for residents from rural
areas to move to Paris. The railways brought about an integration
of rural France with up-and-coming Paris.
This diagram is entitled "The changing rail network
of France". The maps are from a)1850 b)1860 c)1870 and
d)1890 and show the rapid growth of the railway system in
Haussmann's reconstruction of Paris responded to the need for more
efficient ways of dealing with an increased amount of traffic. In
addition to the railway stations, Haussmann's drastic changes transformed
Paris from an ancient medieval city to a 19th century industrial
center. (For more on the streets,
click here.) (For more on Haussmann's
changes, click here.)
Railway technology affected not only the physical geography of
Paris, but also the Parisian's conception of space and time. Calling
the railroad a "providential event... which swings mankind
in a new direction, and changes the color and shape of life,"
Heinrich Heine says, "What changes must now occur, in our way
of looking at things, in our notions! Even the elementary concepts
of time and space have begun to vacillate. Space is killed by the
railways, and we are left with time alone..." (Schivelbusch
44). He remarks on how railways open up and present new opportunities
for use of space, but in this way destroy existing space.