1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paris

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PARIS (see 20.804). The population of the French capital, — 2,847,229 at the census of 1911, — was 2,906,472 at the census of 1921. In view of the rapid German advance on Paris after the outbreak of war in August 1914, steps were quietly taken to evacuate as many as possible of the civilian population; and on the night of Sept. 2 the President and ministers left the city for Bordeaux, where the Government was temporarily transferred. But the victory of the Marne removed the peril from Paris, and in December the Government returned there.

Paris during the World War was bombarded by aeroplane, Zeppelin, and artillery; 746 bombs were dropped from the air, killing 266 persons and wounding 603; German long-range artillery fired 303 shells into Paris, killing 256 persons and wounding 620. The first air raid was made on Aug. 30 1914, by aeroplane and in daylight. The first Zeppelin raid took place by night on March 21 1915. The worst air raid was made on the night of Jan. 30-31 1918, when 91 bombs fell upon the city itself and 178 on the suburbs. The long-range bombardment began on March 23 1918, and continued until Aug. 9, with many intervals of calm, there being only 44 days upon which the Berthas were active. The existence of such long-range artillery being unknown when the first shells fell at an early hour of the morning, it was imagined that German aircraft, hidden high behind the clouds, must be engaged. All work in the city was at a standstill until noon, when the regularity with which the projectiles exploded at intervals of about 20 minutes, and an examination of some of their fragments, showed that a new engine of war was at work. The first two days of bombardment were the heaviest from the point of view of the number of shells fired, but from the number of casualties caused, March 29, when only one shell fell in Paris, was the most costly. That one shell fell during Good Friday service on the church of St. Gervais, bringing down with it a large portion of the roof; 88 people were killed and 68 wounded.

The air defences of Paris were not properly organized until March 1918. In fact organization had not been necessary, as German air services concentrated all their bombing raids upon England during the years 1916-8. The results obtained by the Paris system of air defences were as follows: on 13 different occasions, on which 107 aeroplanes all-told were employed, no single raider was able to reach Paris; of the 483 planes sent by the enemy to Paris in 1918, only 37 reached the city, and 13 were brought down; and only 11,680 kgm. of bombs were thrown upon the city.

The war being over, the work of demolishing the fortifications encircling the city was begun in 1919, in accordance with a grandiose scheme which would give Paris another ring of boulevards nearly 30 m. in length. It was intended that some of the ground thus made available should be used for building purposes, in the hope of solving the acute housing problem. It was proposed to keep much of it as garden, and to build numbers of well-equipped playing-grounds, and air stations round the city. One portion of the available space, S. of the city, was to be set apart for “University City,” where accommodation would be provided for students of all nationalities; to include recreation and sports grounds, swimming-baths, etc. The site chosen is near the Parc Montsouris.