Georges-Eugène, Baron Haussmann French administrator responsible for the transformation of Paris

Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Brief Biography:

Georges-Eugène Haussman was born on March 27, 1809, in Paris, France. And ultimately died on January 11, 1891, in Paris, France. He was laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris as well. "Haussmann was the grandson, on his father’s side, of a member of the Revolutionary Convention and, on his mother’s, of a Napoleonic general. He studied law in Paris and entered the civil service in 1831 as the secretary-general of a prefecture, rising to subprefect (1832–48), prefect in the provinces (1848–53), and finally prefect of the Seine département (1853–70)" (Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1).

He embarked on an "enormous program of public works, setting a precedent for urban planning in the 20th century. Haussmann cut wide, straight, tree-lined avenues through the chaotic mass of small streets of which Paris was then composed," (Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1). connecting the train terminals and making rapid and easy movement across the city possible for the first time.

The purpose was partly economic, promoting industrialization by enabling goods and services to be transported efficiently; partly aesthetic, imposing a measure of unifying order and opening up space to allow more light; and partly military, eliminating constricted streets where rebel barricades could be erected.

Haussmann’s success was furthered by the autocratic nature of the regime under which he served, for this allowed him to raise enormous long-term loans and to use them almost without parliamentary or other control. His handling of public money, however, roused increasing criticism among the liberal opposition, and the advent to power of Émile Ollivier’s liberal government in 1870 resulted in his dismissal.

While many of the ideas for the changes came from Napoleon III, Haussmann’s "exceptional capacity for work ensured that the modernization plans, which might have remained idle dreams, were carried out expeditiously" (Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1), and he is therefore his impact is important for old and modern Paris.


"Georges-Eugène, Baron Haussmann." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 19 Sep. 2016. Accessed 31 Jan. 2017.

"Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann." Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, 1995. Biography in Context, Accessed 31 Jan. 2017.


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