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César Daly, Paris and the emergence of modern urban planning

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César Daly (1811–93), an architect by training, was the editor from 1839 to 1888 of the Revue générale de l'architecture et des travaux publics ( RGA ), one of the leading architectural journals on both sides of the Atlantic during the nineteenth century and was himself an influential architectural critic. While his importance as such has been ably and thoroughly chronicled by historians, his interest in urban planning has not received the close attention that it deserves. This article explores Daly's understanding of the nature of the city in the modern industrial age. His theorization of those elements that determined the underlying infrastructure of cities and their centres, modern as well as ancient, was modelled upon Second‐Empire Paris. Such a theory, which synthesized many early nineteenth century speculations on the modern city, was intended to serve as a rational foundation for urban reforms in the French capital. It represented, moreover, a theoretical reading of Haussmannization at a mid point in this process. Daly was important, therefore, not only as an architectural critic but also as a significant thinker with respect to a theoretical understanding of city formation and planning and an interpreter of Haussmann's reforms. His ideas, moreover, mark an important step in the eventual emergence of modern urban planning.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Late Professor Emeritus of History, The City University of New York, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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