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Nostalgic for Paris

Reporters on the Job: Looking at all the designs for the Paris of the future (read the story here), I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic for the old Paris. That’s the Paris created 150 years ago by Baron Haussmann, Emperor Napoleon’s urban designer. It’s the Paris that’s on all the picture postcards, a graceful if homogenous assembly of cream-colored stone buildings and curvaceous wrought-iron balconies on ruler-straight streets.

But a lot of people who care about urban design told me they find that iconic style to be boring. Everyone seems hungry for a style that says, “This is Paris and nowhere else.”

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So I was heartened to see the overflow crowd at this week’s Grand Paris public hearing, where nearly every architect spoke of the need to bring a corner cafe to every neighborhood and poetry and enchantment back to urban design.