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Reaching For A ‘Natural Authority’: The Rhône In Eighteenth-Century Lyon

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Chapter Summary

At the post-modern end of the twentieth century, new environmental movements challenged such certainties and generated more reciprocal formulations that emphasize the density of exchanges between a society and its environment. This chapter probes an enlightened series of urban projects to illustrate this interdependency and, more precisely, to demonstrate the heuristic character of a great natural feature - the river Rhône in eighteenth-century Lyon, France's second largest city. Until the eighteenth century, Lyon deliberately turned its back to the Rhône. The context of the great projects formulated in eighteenth-century Lyon is a classic combination of objective and subjective factors. Among the initial objections to Morand's plan to expand the city eastward were those related to the many borders which the Rhône materialised in Lyon. The Rhône also offered opportunities to further the still limited but nonetheless real process of social and functional segregation in Lyon.

Keywords: eighteenth-century Lyon; river Rhône



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