the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Sydney Schuster ’21
Image Credits: businesstraveller.com, mymodernmet.com
Paris’ Champs-Elysées, best known for its towering Arc de Triomphe, and its massive Nike, Adidas, and Abecrombie stores, has been a place of celebration for Parisians for centuries: from France’s annual Bastille day to World Cup viewing parties. However, many Parisians and tourists alike have recently noted that the once sprawling promenade has been, to put it simply, “loved to death.” This remarkably wide street, originally built for the French royal family under, is today described by locals as ‘crowded,’ ‘dirty’ and ‘overarchingly unpleasant.’
However, not all hope is lost for André Le Nôtre’s 370-year-old prized creation. The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired the development of green living spaces in cities throughout the world. Recently, Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, approved a €250 million ($303 million) plan to convert the promenade into what she described as a “magnificent garden.” This multi-phased plan will be spread over the course of the next decade, though Hidalgo hopes to have phase one complete by 2024, when Paris will be hosting the Olympics.
Architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose firm is in charge of the remodel, plans to plant tunnels of trees alongside the old elms that were planted years ago and have been degraded over the years due to fluctuating levels of pollution and record breaking heat waves. Additionally, he plans to reduce the amount of parking spaces by ½ and convert the road into a “pedestrian walking space”, with the goal of eliminating the hustle and bustle inflicted by car traffic and inspiring Parisians to reconnect with nature.
This costly remodel will not only do wonders for the ambiance, the environmental benefits of the plan are impossible to overlook. Air pollution, which has been an impending issue for Parisians for decades, is expected to drop significantly, as traffic is supposed to decrease by 72%. However, the good tidings don’t stop there: as rainwater filtration, restoration of wildlife, and absorption of CO2 are all promised accompaniments to this renovation.