The City in European History

Essay Questions (Final Examination)

I. Essay Question (1 Question; 15 Points).  Select one (1) of the following questions and answer it fully.  The essay  should be about two pages in length.  If sources are used, please cite them in your paper.  Your paper will be graded on its comprehensiveness, the quality of its argument, and the use of supporting evidence.  Review your essay for spelling and correct English usage.

1. Describe how at least two of Henry IV’s Parisian building projects transformed the city.

2. Assuming you had money and leisure time and could choose whether to live in seventeenth-century Amsterdam or Paris, explain where you would live and why.  Use specific evidence to justify your choice.

3. Discuss the unique combination of factors that were necessary for the success of John Nash's Regent Street project.  How did it become a model for the transformation of other cities in the nineteenth century?

4. Analyze the significance of the development of the London suburb.  Describe how and why the suburb developed and the type of housing suburban dwellers favored.  Explain the meaning, in this context, of Hippolyte Taine's observation: “The townsman does everything in his power to cease being a townsman, and tries to fit a country-house and a bit of country into a corner of the town.”

5. Describe the principal features of the Parisian topography of the 1840s.  Then describe the main features of the plan by Baron Haussmann and Napoleon III for the rebuilding of central Paris, indicating how it altered the city's topography.

6. Describe the transformation of shopping and the development of the department store in nineteenth-century Paris, indicating the stages through which stores moved and their historical importance.

7. Kaiser Wilhelm II contrasted Paris and Berlin in 1892, when he considered the possibility of holding the World's Fair of 1900 in Berlin: “The glory of the Parisians robs the Berliners of their sleep.  Paris is the great whorehouse of the world; therein lies its attraction independent of any exhibition.  There is nothing in Berlin that can captivate the foreigner, except a few museums, castles, and soldiers.  After six days, the red [guide-] book in hand, he has seen everything, and he departs relieved, feeling that he has done his duty.”  Assess in your essay the accuracy of this characterization of Berlin and its inhabitants.

8. According to Donald Olsen, following the 1857 memorandum ordering the demolition of Vienna’s fortifications and a town expansion project, Vienna “was about to transform itself [from a baroque Residenzstadt awkwardly fitting into the physical structure of a medieval Bürgerstadt] into a metropolitan Weltstadt.  Utilizing the technology and incorporating the values of the nineteenth century, it strove to rival London in wealth and the New Paris in splendor, while preserving all that was best of the older Vienna.”  (Olsen, 58).  Evaluate the validity of this assertion by describing and analyzing the construction of the Ringstrasse, 1857-1914.  Include a description of the major buildings erected along the Ringstrasse.

9. “In architecture, Socialist realism means the intimate union of ideological expression with the truth of artistic expression, and the effort to adapt every building to the technical, cultural, or utilitarian demands which are its own.”  Explain how, using specific examples, this phrase does or does not characterize Soviet attitudes toward urban planning and architecture in the Moscow of the 1930s.

10. Select one city (and not the city written about in your term paper) studied since the last examination and explain why you would choose to live in it; refer in your essay to the city's topography, its architecture, and its cultural life.  Also note problems of urban life that living in this city would force you to confront.  Use specific examples in your answer.

This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown
Last Update: 08.IV.2004

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