Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
The Haussmanhattan blog shows what Manhattan-On-Seine might have looked like.
What would Paris look like if you combined it with New York?
You could spend all day dreaming about a mashup of the French capital’s grand boulevards interspersed with Manhattan’s skyscrapers—or you could jump head-first into a beautifully vintage alternate reality created by Paris architect and photographer Luis Fernandes and shared on his blog, Haussmanhattan. Fernandes uses old photos of both cities to create striking collages of urban landscapes that seem strangely real. In Haussmanhattan’s elegant visual creations, the Flatiron Building reappears on the prow of the Île de la Cité, the Woolworth Building pokes out from clouds next to the Eiffel Tower, while the neck of the Invalides’ dome is stretched into a cloud-scratchingly high cylinder towering over the city.
The results are eerily effective thanks to the careful choice of black and white photos. It also sticks to Manhattan landmarks finished well before World War II, whose masonry facades blend more easily into Parisian surroundings. Curiously, the result of this combination of aesthetics of 1920s Paris and 1920s Manhattan turns out to be somewhat familiar to people who have visited the Eastern Bloc. The combination of broad European-style boulevards with tall towers still clad in historicist embellishments at times looks rather like Moscow or Kiev, where elaborate Stalinist towers hover over wide, tree-lined avenues. Haussmanhattan’s hybrid city might look like a delightful place to explore, but most of us will be glad that it’s striking combination of Baron Haussman and Ernest Flagg remains fictional.