Abstract: The Parisian Subway, 1880-1900: A Local or a National Interest Line? On the Concept of Globalization

Pascal Desabres


The aim of this paper is a new reading of the opposing arguments about the Métro project, using the concept of globalization (regarded as the integration of a network into a larger network, vital for the smaller system). This concept arose later than the two decades (1880-1890) we examine, but in the archives, we discover a desire to integrate the Métro network into a bigger network, owned by the great railway companies. The city refused this scheme, facing the national government in a political, not a technical, quarrel. A short analysis of some contradictory documents in this debate led us to change our views regarding the great railway companies: they are not the lobbying power described by their enemies, but, rather, in the 1880s, the only skilled actor able to build a Métropolitain railway in Paris. Finally, the Parisian "Métro" was built, ending a long quarrel opposing Paris and the state.

BEH On-Line Paper