"Modern" Paris is the result of a vast mid-19th century urban remodelling. For centuries it had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but beginning in 1852, the Baron Haussmann's vast urbanisation levelled entire quarters to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoise standing; most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today. These Second Empire plans are in many cases still actual, as the city of Paris imposes the then-defined "alignement" law (imposed position defining a predetermined street width) on many new constructions. A building's height was also defined according to the width of the street it lines, and Paris' building code has seen few changes since the mid-19th century to allow for higher constructions. It is for this reason that Paris is mainly a "flat" city.
Permalink: Street in Paris