Essential Architecture-  Paris

Canal de l’Ourq


Simon Girard, overseer


North from Place Stalingrad along the quays, 10th, 19th.








Outdoor space/ Park
  Canal de l'Ourcq at the Parc de la Villette.
  The station water Meaux
  Pantin, since the channel
  Canal de l'Ourcq in Aulnay-sous-Bois
  Canal de l'Ourcq early in the forest of Sevran, to the west
  Le Pont de Rougemont in Livry-Gargan, at the very beginning of the twentieth century. Behind the bridge is a homeless barge.
  Factory at the edge of the Trilbardou.
Napoleon had studied at the Ecole Militaire and while he was famously not from Paris, he understood the city. To keep Parisians fed so they wouldn’t riot, he kept them employed. As the Depression proved in America, the best route to full employment is huge public works, followed by a major war. Napoleon did both. In Paris, he found that nothing keeps people happy like a large construction project; the building of the canal was perfect for his purpose. Initially intended as a source of drinking water, this canal actually set in motion an entire architectural shift in northeastern Paris as the Industrial Revolution gained speed. Because of this convenient shipping lane connecting the Canal Saint-Denis (out in the suburbs) with the Canal Saint-Martin (inside the old walls of 18th-century Paris), Paris was able to set up important dockyards for sugar refineries, construction equipment, and every kind of light industry in the 10th, 11th, and 19th arrondissements. These industrial buildings would soon have a huge impact on Paris architecture. But originally, the plan was simply to bring water to thirsty Parisians. The head of construction, Simon Girard, was a veteran of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, and the canal went forward much like a campaign. Pillars were sunk to support the canal bed over marshy ground, while utopian Classical architecture was used at the tax checkpoints and for other detailing along the canal. The Ourcq was almost lost in the 1970s, when planners suggested paving it over and installing a high-speed highway through the east of Paris. Fortunately, residents protested and today the canal remains a magnificent place to stroll, surrounded by superb 19th- and 20th-century buildings.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to