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The Cover
June 21, 2006

The Grands Boulevards

JAMA. 2006;295(23):2698. doi:10.1001/jama.295.23.2698

The boulevard (literally, a bulwark) is a peculiarly French invention. First conceived by Louis XIV in the mid-17th century as a widened thoroughfare for carriages, to replace some former ramparts, the boulevard was appropriated in the next century by the fashionable set as the place to sit, on little straw-bottom chairs so it is said, and watch the passing parade of rich and royal. The boulevards arrived at today's familiar “spokes-and-hub” configuration during the 19th century when Napoleon III appointed Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann to oversee a massive (and ruthless) urban planning project in the heart of Paris. The City was redefined; new words entered the lexicon, boulevardier, for example, as one who promenades along or otherwise frequents the boulevards. Édouard Manet was a boulevardier.

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