Boulogne Sur Mer, La Rue Thiers

Most of this area was heavily damaged during the last war, and it is doubtful if much of this street remains. Here again we have a major commercial street that is only about 9 meters wide. It is filled with pedestrians but still manages to pass the odd horse-cart and, by the look of it, an occasional tram.

The buildings are of a very fine character, and apparently built in a hodgepodge of styles over a period of a century or two. Nonetheless, these disparate buildings get along fine with one another, and this was a very attractive street.

Note the early application of plate glass in the right foreground. I am not generally a fan of plate glass, but it does work well for shop windows, and quite a lot of it is to be seen even in Venice. It's really quite a serious risk - people are frequently seriously injured by breaking plate glass. The risk of injury is much less with small, thinner panes, and it is nearly impossible to walk through one by accident, because the mullions announce that there's a window there. With plate glass, you can fail to see the glass. People occasionally die from this cause.

Much worse than plate glass are the steel roll-up shutters used so widely throughout Europe. Imagine this street with metal boxes above all the shop windows (to contain the rolled-up shutters) and what this street would look like with all the ground-floor windows covered by crude galvanized steel shutters. It would destroy the street almost as effectively as warfare.

The first rule of architecture should be to protect people from harm by the building.

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