Old Paris Through the Lens of Eugène Atget
Paris was never the same, although for the better, after Haussmann’s renovation. Thankfully, this celebrated photographer took the liberty of documenting the city’s vanishing streets with his camera.
The period between the mid-19th century up until the late 1920s was one of drastic change in Paris, whose streets back then were a far cry from what we see today; they were dark, overcrowded, and rife with crime and disease.
Emperor Napoleon III tasked Georges-Eugène Haussmann to undertake a massive public works project to overhaul the entire city. It began in 1853 and ended in 1927 (although Haussmann was said to have been dismissed by 1870 by the Emperor), and is commonly known as Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.
Before Old Paris completely vanished to make way for modernization, however, Eugène Atget was able to document it with an 18×24cm view camera fitted with a brass rectilinear lens and is without a shutter.
Atget reportedly spent 30 years, from 1898 up until a few months before his death in 1927, going around the streets of Paris and capturing store fronts, residential areas, establishments, parks, and many others.
In all, Atget was said to have created 5,000 negatives and close to 10,000 prints. Currently, the George Eastman House possesses 500 of these prints.
Visit the George Eastman House on Flickr for more of Atget’s photographs.
Originally published at www.lomography.com