The five views of Paris on these notecards include: the Arc de Triomphe and environs; the Luxembourg Gardens, des Invalides, Ecole Militaire, and environs; The Place de la Concord, Tuileries, Louvre, and environs; the Madeleine, Opera, and environs; the Ile de la Cite, Notre-Dame, and environs.
When Louis-Napoleon (soon to become Napoleon III) returned to France from exile in 1848, he brought with him a map of Paris painstakingly marked in red, blue, green, and yellow inks. This document, now lost, was the plan for no less than the full-scale modernization of Paris. At that time, Paris was a fetid medieval city of dark, winding streets. Courtyards of buildings were used as garbage dumps, chamber pots were emptied from windows, and two-thirds of the streets contained open sewers. In 1853, Napoleon III appointed an unknown provincial prefect, Baron Georges Haussmann, to realize his vision. Haussmann razed the ancient Ile de la Cite; the only buildings left standing were Notre Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergie, and the Palais de Justice. Thousands of houses were demolished; crooked streets were straightened or replaced by grand, tree-lined boulevards, enabling Parisians to stroll, shop, and socialize; bridges and magnificent public parks were constructed; broad vistas were created for the enhancement of monuments; 15,000 gaslights were installed. The transformation took only seventeen years. At the end, Paris had become the City of Light.