Blanqui lived at No. 13 from 1878 until his death in 1881. At that time his address was in the Boulevard d’Italie, which was renamed in 1905
In 1826 under Charles X a royal decree allowed the joint owners (M. Geoffroy and M. Godefrey) of land to the south of Paris, to build a 13m-wide road between the Customs Office at the Place d’Italie to the Customs Office at the Gobelins. The street was therefore called rue Godefroy. today it runs from the Place des Alpes to the Place d’Italie.
Zhou Enlai lived at No. 17 in a now demolished hotel from 1922-1924, sharing a room for some of the time with Deng Xiaoping.
Numbers: 47, 127, 163
Hospitals often have strange stories to tell. The former gunpowder factory and prison that became the Salpêtrière hospital at No. 47 was where Joseph Ignace Guillotin practised his ‘more humane’ method of execution (than hanging or shooting) on the hospital’s dead bodies on April 15 1792.
Six months after Dr Guillotin was there, 35 women common prisoners held there were murdered in the panic of the September massacres to which the revolutionary Jacobin leaders turned a blind eye.
Much further along the Boulevard, on March 25 1920 the future Ho Chi Minh attended an anti-colonial conference based on Lenin’s support for national independence at No. 127.
In the interwar years the Communist Party organised many meetings at the Trade Union Centre at No. 163 of groups such as the Women’s Union, the Humanity Defence Committee and the Red Campers.
The Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière at No. 47 was requisitioned by the Germans in 1940, and was where they used to bring tortured resistance fighters or their dead bodies.
The statue of the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot erected outside the hospital on December 4 1898 was melted down for guns in 1942 to help the German war effort, as were 100 others under the law of October 11 1941 passed by the Vichy Government.
The Boulevard was the route taken by the 9th company of Leclerc’s 2nd battalion on its way into Paris on 24 August 1944. Among the troops were 130 Spanish republicans whose armoured vehicles had been given names like Guadalajara, Teruel and Guernica.
Much later, this was where France’s first artificial heart was implanted in 1986, nearly twenty years after the first heart transplant in France took place there.
La Place Emile Duval
The present Place d’Italie stands on the site of two tax collectors’ buildings on the Farmers’ General tax wall built from 1784 to 1791 to increase the tax collectors’ incomes. One of them was burnt down in 1789.
The Fontainebleau gate was the one through which Napoléon Bonaparte reentered Paris on 21 March 1815 after his return from Elba.
On the 23 June 1848 the first of hundreds of barricades were erected by workers in an insurrection that divided Paris between its wealthier West and its impoverished East.
At the Place d’Italie, known then as the Fontainbleau barrière a barricade was built between the old toll buildings – shown still standing in this 1865 picture. The one on the left was used as the 13th arrondissement town hall from 1860 until 1873 when it was demolished and rebuilt on a much grander scale.
The barricade blocked the principal entrance to Paris from the South. An army general was killed by the workers as he was attempting to persuade them to surrender. Many of its defenders were then among the estimated 3,000-5,000 workers massacred.
In October 1870, when Thiers began negotiating the surrender of Paris with Bismarck, the town hall was occupied by soldiers of the 101st battalion of the National Guard, who hoisted a red flag over the building.
On April 17 1871 the Paris Commune renamed it La Place Emile Duval after the 31-year-old revolutionary socialist who was captured and shot without trial by the Versaillais on April 4.
During the ‘bloody week’ of May 1871 when the Paris Commune was brutally suppressed the barricades here held out until surrounded on all sides. Finally, they succumbed to machine gun fire. A renaming event in honour of all those killed here took place in 2016.
Hazan (IOP) tells the story of the surrealist Brassai’s 1932 photo taken here and ‘titled with a certain cruelty A Pair of Lovers in a Small Paris Café’.
It was the Place d’Italie, too, where Hazan (WTP) records the sculptor Giacometti as being knocked down by a car and being left with a limp for the rest of his life.
The avenue d’Ivry runs south to external limit of the 20 arrondissements in today’s Paris. Hazan (WTP) suggests this boundary presents a false image: by confining Paris to the twenty arrondissements, it contributes to the image of a city that is mummified and museum-ified, in which working class life is reduced to a narrow sector.
Hazan (WTP) also explains the origins of the Asian ethnicity of the area: during the First World War, Panhard & Levassor, like Citroen and Renault, employed workers brought from Indochina, or recruited in China, to replace Frenchmen sent to the front. This is said to be the origin of the Chinese quarter in the 13th arrondissement, which grew in the 1970s with the arrival of the “boat people”.
Towards the circular Boulevard Périphérique the Avenue has since the 1990s become a centre of modern business buildings.
The Ivry-sur-Seine commune to which the avenue leads is just 3.3 miles (5.3 km) from the centre of Paris. Ivry used to stretch down to the Seine and included the land on which the new Mitterrand national French library was build. A third of Ivry was annexed by Paris in 1860.
Hazan (IOP) draws a political line of Resistance Paris based on those who were shot or deported between 1940 and 1944. In Paris it runs from the Porte de Clignancourt to the Porte de Vincennes, broadly the poorest, more working class areas, and then into what became known as the ‘Red Belt’ around Paris, ‘to Montreuil [in the East] and Ivry [to the South East].’
Ivry was the cradle of Municipal Communism. Georges Marrane was its Communist mayor from 1935 to 1965. In the 2017 general election Ivry still voted for the left France Insoumise parliamentary candidate and had a Communist mayor. The Red Belt’s population today is, Hazan (IOP) writes ‘now for the greater part ‘of immigrant origin’, i.e., made up of Blacks and Arabs, the very people (or their relatives) who had been driven out of the city by renovation and rising rents.’
Hazan (WTP) describes finding the site of the former Panhard & Levassor factory on the Boulevard Massena at the corner between the Avenue d’Ivry and the Rue Nationale. The 1891 three-level structure has been preserved.
This is not the case with the rest of the area. But even so, unlike most of inner Paris, it has not been gentrified. From the 1970s many migrant boat-people from Vietnam settled in the area between Rue de Tolbiac (to the West), the Rue Nationale (to the North East) and the Avenue d’Italie (to the South).
In 2017, the Marguerite-Durand historical library of gender and feminism, named after the founder of La Fronde in 1897, survived an attempt to close it. Its wealth of archives can be found at 79 Rue Nationale. After nearly two years of works the library re-opens on December 3 2019.
Renamed in 1894 after the 18th century animal painter and former director of the Gobelins Tapestry factory, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, the road had been a centre for tanneries for nearly two hundred years.
Trotsky and his family lived and he was arrested at No. 27 in 1916, before being expelled to Spain. His movements were spied upon from a bar round the corner in the Boulevard St. Marcel.
Numbers: 1/2, 17, 54, 81
The road was built in 1825 along the course of one of the arms of the Bièvre River on the site of the former Cordeliers convent that was nationalised in the French Revolution and sold to tanning works 1796. The road was named after the 17th century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal who had lived nearby and who invented the first calculating machine.
The river bed on which it was built was crossed by the Boulevard de Port-Royal in 1866 (a view from the bridge is shown above in and the stream finally covered over in 1905.
Louis-Philippe’s prime minister, François Guizot, banned a democratic reform banquet scheduled for January 13 1848 to take place at what is now No. 54, in the Lourcine-Pascal Hospital, a cholera refuge from 1838 (since 1905 the Broca Hospital) on the site of the former Cordelières Abbey. That meeting was postponed to February 22 to take place in the Champs-Élysées. It is the banning of that meeting that sparked the 1848 February Revolution.
On June 23 1848 violent fighting took place at a barricade between Nos. 1 and 2 and only finished with the defeat of the workers protesting the closure of the National Workshops the following day.
In 1902 No. 81 became the Russian Revolutionary Socialist Party‘s library in Paris.