Three centuries of maps in the Ile-de-France - Volume 1

Cahiers, no. 119

31 décembre 1997Contact

In its constant concern to gain a better understanding of realities in the Ile-de-France, the IAU îdF has carried out an extensive study of maps of the region, covering a period of three centuries. The results are presented in two special issues of the Cahiers.

Map treasures

In this issue no. 119 of the Cahiers de l’IAURIF, the first idea was to try to illustrate the major transformations that Ile-de-France has undergone through the many maps produce in the course of its history. The second was to try to show what its urban or rural landscapes were like during the periods considered by drawing a parallel between the map and pictorial representations, whether in the form of engravings, paintings, or photographs… Contacts with the main depositories of documents (IGN, the national Archives, of Paris, the French National Library, Departmental Archives, various city libraries and museums, etc.) unearthed real treasures in the form of little or totally unused maps, administrative maps, atlases, feudal land registers and minute drawings. After that, our main preoccupation consisted in identifying these strata of maps to determine the places represented at different periods, in assessing their reliability, in mapping their coverage on the current map of the region, in deciding how to structure the presentation of these riches.

Through the eyes of a town planner

Four periods were delimited, each corresponding to a large map of Ile-de-France the 'Carte des Chasses', which covers the end of the Ancien Régime and shows the structuring of the landscape by the dense network of royal roads, parks of châteaux and forest paths, the 'Carte d’État Major', which shows the state of the region following the French Revolution and Empire, the map of France type 1900, which introduces the railway network, industry and urban extension, and the map of France type 1922, which shows the spatial explosion and the appearance of the network of modern infrastructure. The reader will find certain places whose transformation can be followed: Cormeilles-en-Vexin, Melun, Meudon, Pontoise...

Modern means

In the 1980s, new computer-based tools appeared that have added a new dimension to cartography, namely, the regional geographical information system developed by IAU île-de-France, the topology database developed by IGN, the computerised land register developed by the Inland Revenue Office, the Imago Metropolis project to make 3-D representations of vast landscapes. Our aim consisted in using these tools to digitise the four major maps analysed in the present volume in order to be able to draw from them certain numerical data. Using these IT tools shed light on the possibilities offered by a geographical approach to the identification of old maps as well as on the potential partnerships that could thus be established.


The 1965 master plan had three main thrusts: to channel physical expansion, create new urban centres, organise the unity of the urban region.
© Perceval (Alain), IAU îdF
In 1956, the watchwords of the revision of the Regional Development Plan for the Paris Region were: decentralise the metropolitan area (and particularly industry) towards the provinces, decongest Paris towards the suburbs, regenerate the suburbs through large housing estates!
© Bruchet (Jean), IAU îdF
Saint-Ouen got a new 1/5,000 scale map at around 1900. 5 lines of tramlines served the town and the public highways were lit by gas lamps.
© IAU îdF
The postcard of Athis-Mons shows the type of construction in the area at around 1900: millstone detached houses with industrial tile roofs, as well as small cabins hidden at the bottoms of mainly vegetable gardens, interspersed with fruit trees.
© IAU îdF
Two types of housing units marked the period between the two World Wars. These were low-income housing units (Habitations à Bon Marché, HBMs) and garden cities.
© IAU îdF
The study of the important events that have left their mark on the Ile-de-France in the course of three centuries of maps led to the listing and examination of many maps. 26 of them were analysed. Above the area covered by each of these maps.
Source IAU îdF © IAU îdF

Études apparentées