Ars Technica comments on Paris’ mayor Delanoe’s decision to wire up the City of Lights with fiber and provide 400 free wifi hotspots by the end of 2007. So now Paris is getting even with San Francisco, London or even Chicago. Whether this is sufficient to provide the French capital a competitive advantage remains to be seen, mainly as Ars Technica commentator sniggers at flaky and security-flawed wifi hotspots. But undoutedly, Delanoe is a master of communications and he knows how to send a strong signal to the world. Paris is in the midst of a European-wide battle including Frankfurt, London and Barcelona to attract business people and the headquarters of major European firms. This is why the 2 major business quarters of Paris are beefing up their office space at either end of the Capital. La Défense (West of Paris), a massive 150,000+ employee campus at the gate of Paris and Neuilly is a mini Manhattan by the Seine and planning to build more high risers and extend its frontiers all around. Another plan for a mile-high sky-scraper was unveiled earlier this year by the local authorities (see original plan by Jean Nouvel in a 1991 article). East of Paris, the brand new ‘Rive Gauche’ quarter (from where I am writing at this very moment) is gearing up to become the East-side competitor of La Défense. Office buildings are being built at full speed here, as space is being created by covering existing railway tracks and demolishing century-old derelict housing. A diagram showing the main La Défense highrise buildings is available here.
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