This is the fifth and final post in a new series of posts covering the rich history of Carouge, one of Geneva’s most fascinating neighborhoods. This series is authored by B, an AIWC member and resident of Carouge who is obsessed with history, languages, and winter sports.
V. Post Tenebrus Lux
In 1814, a large European Alliance marches on France – the Austrians try to blow up the Carouge bridge, but fail – Napoléon abdicates in April. In May, Victor-Emmanuel I returns to Turin, and the Treaty of Paris places Carouge back in the hands of the king. Meanwhile, Napoléon tries to stage a come-back, which ends badly at Waterloo. At the ongoing Congress of Vienna where Europe is putting itself back together post Bonaparte, Geneva, negotiating with Switzerland, argues the necessity of reattaching Carouge as a matter of self defense. Ironically, the new stone bridge which could not be burned or blown up made it impossible to protect Geneva from attack without Carouge as a buffer. Another Treaty of Turin in 1816 between Switzerland, Geneva, and Sardinia sealed the fate of Carouge, and ended forever the experiment in competitive urban development.
The Kingdom of Sardinia persisted until the Treaty of Turin 1860, when its territory was divided between France, Switzerland, and a new kingdom of Italy.
By the 1960’s, Carouge was being encroached by commercial development and in danger of being gradually demolished. It was saved by a book, Invention de Carouge, by André Corboz, which has been the main source of information for this history.
Carouge survived and has remained a special place for all Genévois, with its legacy of tolerance of foreigners, religious practices, and partying. Its lack of fortifications and profusion of trees made it open and welcoming rather than stern and imposing. Its pleasing and coherent architecture on a very human scale is still its greatest asset. That’s in large part why the residents of Carouge still “don’t cross the bridge”.
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