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The "imperial" or "German" quarter (1870 - 1918)

Palais du Rhin - Philippe de Rexel

Three out of four large avenues destroyed, severe damage throughout the city centre, such was the heavy toll of the 1870 siege and French defeat. While the reconstruction was completed within five years, the extension of the city, that had been postponed since the 18th century, was more than ever topical for business circles, desirous of efficient infrastructures (railway station, port, traffic, etc.), as well as for political authorities who wanted a capital for "Alsace-Lorraine Reichsland" that would be exemplary, grandiose and entirely dedicated to the glory of the Empire and "Germanity". The new city's master plan was therefore approved in April 1880, i.e. 386 hectares in addition to the 230 hectares forming the original core. The author of the project was J.G. Conrath, the town's architect since 1849. Conrath first developped a prestigious area reserved for official buildings (imperial palace, ministeries, regional assembly headquarters, library and university). This first project was entirely completed around 1900. The other sector, with residential areas of both collective and private housing, made slower progress, continuing to develop after 1920.It is a very interesting urban creation composed of large open squares and broad, tree-embellished avenues, and of several sites where the monumental blends skillfully with the landscaping (for example the banks of the Ill river with St. Paul's Church). Both public buildings and private homes express that certain taste for historical eclecticism (Italian or German neo-Renaissance, neo-Baroque, etc.), among which some very surprising Art Nouveau constructions can be found such as the "Egyptian house".

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