The green light comes more than a year after architects, community leaders, and businesses unveiled plans to turn the 1.2-mile stretch of road into an “extraordinary garden.”
To achieve this garden, the plan is to reduce space for parking by half, convert roads into pedestrian spaces, plant tunnels of trees alongside the old elms planted in days long gone, which struggle to survive in the polluted air, and generally create more green spaces.
“The legendary avenue has lost its splendor during the last 30 years,” said a statement from the Champs-Élysées committee in 2019. “The Champs-Élysées has more and more visitors and big-name businesses battle to be on it, but to French people it’s looking worn out.”
The Champs-Élysées is a place where Parisians have long celebrated: when the Nazis were thrown out, when Les Bleu won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and for the annual Bastille Day Parade.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 100,000 pedestrians, more than half of whom were tourists, enjoyed a bit of promenading here, all the while, more cars were passing along the boulevard day than on the Paris ring road.
Architect Philippe Chiambaretta, whose firm is handling the makeover, described the issues to The Guardian as characteristic of all problems facing modern Paris, such as “pollution, the place of the car, tourism, and consumerism”, explaining that Champs-Élysées needed to be redeveloped into something “ecological, desirable, and inclusive.”
Historians at the PCA Stream architecture firm of Chiambaretta harken back to a time when the Champs-Élysées was, though hard to believe, a swamp and outdoor cooking area. Then, during the mid-1700s the Champs-Élysées became the archetypical European promenade.
“The Champs-Élysées has accommodated people from all walks of life as well as all kinds of activities, both plebeian and highbrow,” explains the article. “Its history is punctuated with the installation of café-concerts, puppet shows, balls—which witnessed the birth of the French cancan—, ball and stick game fields, and so on.”
Today as well as typifying problems facing the average Parisian, it typifies the problems of of mass tourism, namely that the sense of locality vanishes, and the place begins to be “loved to death.”
While the makeover will not be complete before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, an attempt to beautify and rethink another famous spot, the Place de la Concorde, at the southeast end of the Champs-Élysées, is slated to be completed before then.
Another part of the city will also get a bit of love and touch up—Eiffel’s famous tower, which Hidalgo promises to turn into an “extraordinary park at the heart of Paris,” while one of world’s more famous shopping streets won’t cast away its polluting traffic until closer to 2030.
(WATCH the video of how the future Champs-Élysées could look below.)
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Good News in History, January 25
Growing up without a father in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, Keys credits her mother’s tenacity and self-reliance for anchoring her on the right path, unlike many people she grew up with who ended up on the wrong path or in jail.
In total, she’s won 15 Grammys and sold over 50 million albums. During 2020, she released her seventh studio album, Alicia, and published a new book about personal transformation, entitled, More Myself: A Journey.
Keys is also acclaimed for her humanitarian work, is the co-founder of the nonprofit HIV/AIDS-fighting organization Keep a Child Alive, and raised money last year for COVID-19 relief. WATCH a sweet video from lockdown… (1981)
– Photo credits: 2013, by Eva Rinaldi and 2008, by Lukas – CC licenses
MORE Good News on this Date:
- City of São Paulo founded in Brazil (1554)
- The Wedding March by Mendelssohn was played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter and became a favorite recessional (1858)
- The United Mine Workers of America was founded in order to improve working conditions and wages for coal miners (1890)
- AT&T completed the first transcontinental telephone call in the US (1915)
- Pope John Paul II demanded the release of political prisoners during a historic visit to Cuba (1998)
- Egypt’s revolution began as thousands of anti-government protesters, inspired by the Tunisian uprising, clashed with police and demanded the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s rule (2011)
And on this date in 1890, pioneering journalist Nellie Bly completed a record breaking trip around the world in 72 days, to prove that Jules Verne’s fictional journey (“Around the World in 80 Days”) could be achieved. She traveled the 24,899 miles, mostly alone, using steamships and trains, wearing only the dress on her back, a sturdy overcoat and carrying a small travel bag with toiletries and underwear.
While circumnavigating the globe for her newspaper, modern submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports, although longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and thus, were delayed by several weeks. Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, first became renown for her undercover investigation on insane asylum conditions, during which she pretended to be mad. Her expose led to a grand jury investigation and $850,000 in increased funds to care for the insane. Her career began when she was 16, after a misogynistic column, “What Girls Are Good For,” ran in the Pittsburgh Dispatch and prompted her to write a fiery anonymous rebuttal to the editor. He was so impressed with her passion that he ran an advertisement asking the author to identify herself. When Ms. Cochrane introduced herself to the editor, George Madden, he offered her the opportunity to write a piece for the newspaper. (Nellie wrote books about her experiences, and there are stories for children about her trip.)
And, 61 years ago today, Bubble Wrap was invented. Although it failed in its original purpose as a textured wallpaper, it became a popular shipping insulation. Afterward, one of the inventors Alfred Fielding co-founded the Sealed Air Corporation and received a trademark on the name bubble wrap. The protruding air-filled bubbles, which can be popped, also became a fascination for children—and the young-at-heart. (1960)
Also, on this day in 1938, the great blues singer Etta James was born in Los Angeles. Her iconic 1960 hit “At Last”, often played at weddings, was among 9 US Top 40 hits that earned her multiple awards.
After that debut hit album, she faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s. In April 2009, at the age of 71, James made her final television appearance before succumbing to leukemia, performing At Last on Dancing with the Stars. WATCH her perform the song at her induction into the Rock Hall of Fame…
And, on this day in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference decided to create the League of Nations and proceeded to draft a Covenant that 44 states would sign five months later. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included “preventing wars through collective security and disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.”
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Clever Australian Shepherd Appears to Outsmart Owner, Gets Two Treats
In the video, a 4-year-old Australian Shepherd named Morty pauses only a few seconds before he gobbles up the treat. But he soon scurries over to the drawer where the owner keeps the treats.
Morty is seen opening the drawer and grabbing another one, placing it where the old treat had been,
He closes the drawer again, and waits for his owner like nothing happened.
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This ‘Life-changing’ Backward Walker is Helping People Move Forward – Hands Free
Rob Karlovich’s vision for a revolutionary new walking aide was inspired by a news story about disabled veterans returning from Afghanistan. These service people, who were once able to move with agility, were now struggling just to walk safely with the traditional walkers available to them.
As a lifelong technology innovator, Rob knew he could help. The San Jose, California designer recognized that available mobility devices all had two fundamental problems.
First, they threw people off their center of gravity by forcing them to lean forward, which made them unstable and more likely to fall. Second, they required using your hands to operate them, limiting daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, dancing and even hugging.
To solve these problems, he flipped the traditional walker concept upside-down—or backward, to be exact.
Solving the balance problem by working backward
Traditional walkers position the device in front of you, which forces you to hunch over to hang on to the grip bars. This promotes poor posture, throws off your balance and occupies your hands. Instead, the LifeGlider is positioned behind the body. It secures you with a belt at the pelvis, which has two benefits. You can be hands-free, and you’re held up at your center of gravity—a concept in physics that explains how ice skaters and ballet dancers can hoist a person in the air while moving, without falling.
RELATED: Researchers Unveil Ultra-Precise, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic: ‘It’s like you have a hand again’
“It’s is a major safety issue for people at risk for falling,” said Dr. Bruce Adornato, Adjunct Clinical Professor, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine. “Anyone using a walker today is a candidate for this device, but you have to have the coordination to put on the belt and tighten it up properly or someone who can help.”
Following five years of real-world trials by over 2,000 users, the LifeGlider was officially launched in the fall of 2020.
Though inspired by veterans, the idea of being able to walk safely, upright and hands-free has attracted all kinds of people who have suffered mobility loss.
Personal stories demonstrate the impact
Josie Ingber, who worked in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, was one of the first to try the LifeGlider.
She had been getting increasingly unstable on her feet due to multiple sclerosis, and her cane wasn’t doing enough for her. She had fallen a couple of times and was starting to think she had no choice but to get a walker or use a wheelchair.
“I chose not to go out or accept social invitations since I always had to depend on someone’s arm to hold on to. I was starting to feel very isolated,” Josie said.
But LifeGlider was nothing like the walker experience she was dreading. It allowed her to keep working until she was ready to retire.
WATCH: Amazing Video Shows Special Needs Teen Walking For the First Time in 8 Years
“I have been able to do so much more by myself,” Josie said. “This device has changed my life.”
Nancy Troger also had a life-changing experience with the LifeGlider. She broke her back 12 years ago and endured difficult physical therapy to be able to walk with a cane. But Nancy wanted more stability than a cane could offer—and she longed to work in her garden again.
The LifeGlider, which is FDA approved as a mobility device, not only made gardening possible for Nancy. She was finally able to enjoy a daily walk.
LOOK: Wistful Facebook Comment Leads Dozens of Volunteers to Fulfill Bucket List Wish for Woman With MS
Her neighbor told Nancy that as she watched her walk down to the pier using the LifeGlider, she was able to see the person Nancy must have been before the accident.
“When I walk like that, my brain remembers how I used to walk,” Nancy said. “It’s hard to explain the feeling of that memory, but it’s like putting on your favorite clothing. It just feels right.”
Margaret Fisk didn’t appear to have a disability, but as a sufferer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the over-flexibility of her joints made walking painful and dangerous.
Not any more. Recounting her first time walking without having to focus on not falling, Margaret said, “I was speaking more coherently, I was engaged with things. I was walking with confidence for the first time in at least two years without every step being ultimate torture.”
“Life-changing is not overstating it,” she said. “Being locked in my house without nature is a nightmare. The LifeGlider gave that back to me.”
Whether the cause is a neurological disorder, injury, or simply aging, we don’t have to accept mobility limits any more.
A new LifeGlider costs $695, but the company sells refurbished devices for $495, plus shipping, at www.mylifeglider.com.
WATCH a company video to see it in action…
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