paris 1846

This is Paris. This is Paris in 1846. You’re going to have to click on the photo to see the whole thing, because it’s pretty amazing. It may not be exactly 1080 megapixels, but I’d put this ancient Daguerreotype up against a modern cell-phone camera panorama any day.

I don’t know the geography of Paris that well, but I do know that in this photo you can see the Invalides Palace, where Napoleon is buried, and the towers of Notre Dame. If anyone who does know Paris better than I do can tell me where they think this was taken from, please put it in the comments below. Full views of cities (or anything, for that matter) from this era are extremely rare, and this is one of the best-preserved examples I’ve seen.

Paris did not look like this much longer. Two years after this picture was taken the city was rocked by the Revolution of 1848, a sea change in European politics, and also (surprisingly) for the environment of the city. Largely to root out narrow alleys and neighborhoods where revolutionaries could hole up against official authority, the government of Louis Napoleon undertook an extensive rebuilding of Paris, specifically to fill it with broad plazas and wide avenues. That’s the Paris we see today. What you see in this picture is a vanished world.

Cool, huh?