Degrading Paris newsstands

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My correspondent in Paris, Mary Campbell Gallagher, warns that its mayor, Anne Hidalgo, wants to replace the city’s historic newsstands with a new version of greater spaciousness but lesser gloire. In its relative mildness, this initiative seems to contradict almost all of her administration’s previous decisions aimed at destroying Paris’s beauty.

The proposal offers not the modernist insult to Paris that you would expect from her but rather an inarguably traditional style for the new kiosk. If not for the excellence of the existing historic kiosks, originally selected by Baron Haussmann, one might receive the new ones with open arms. Why has she not proposed littering Paris with wee abominations more in line with the major developments she has supported for the City of Light?

Is Hidalgo wimping out? That is the $64,000 question. The riches of Parisian beauty are an embarrassment to France’s architectural establishment and its cult-like infatuation with the modernist style. The establishment wants to ruin cityscapes around whose every corner lies an inarguable contradiction of its aesthetic philosophy. The mayor could have sapped the strength of this ubiquitous contradiction by strewing Paris with new modernist newsstands. Such a step would everywhere weaken the ambiance of loveliness that is the chief source of inspiration for those such as Mary Campbell Gallagher who oppose the uglification of Paris.

Campbell might be well placed to assess the politics behind Mayor Hidalgo’s newsstand initiative. I will report her analysis as soon as she sends it. In the meantime, she has sent a petition against the kiosks to sign for those who want to stop the mayor’s latest initiative.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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1 Response to Degrading Paris newsstands

  1. This is just so sad, ridiculous and unacceptable!! The hole country of France is being threatened by these kind of decisions…Here in medieval Chinon (Loire Valley, UNESCO World Heritage!!) people are struggling against a 5 floor parking building projet right in front of the Royal Forteress!! Would you accept to sign and share the petition?
    Thank you for this article…
    Association Défense du Patrimoine de Chinon et de ses Environs


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