La Défense

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La Défense is a major business district of the Paris aire urbaine. With a population of 20,000,[1] it is centered in an orbital motorway straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. The district is at the westernmost extremity of Paris's 10 km long Historical Axis, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense.

Around its 110-metre (360 ft)-high Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), the district holds many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. With its 77.5 acres (314,000 m2), its 72 glass-and-steel slick buildings including 14 high-rises above 150 metres (490 ft), its 180,000 daily workers and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district.

Contents

History

La Défense is named after the iconic statue La Défense de Paris, which was erected in 1883 to commemorate the soldiers who had defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. The name of the area sometimes causes confusion with visitors, who occasionally assume it is some kind of military zone or establishment.[citation needed]

In September 1958, The Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense (EPAD) buildings (of which the Esso Tower was the very first) were built and began to slowly replace the city's factories, shanties, and even a few farms. The Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT) was built and first used in 1958. These "first generation" skyscrapers were all very similar in appearance, limited to a height of 100 metres (330 ft). In 1966, the Nobel Tower was the first office building built in the area. In 1970 the RER line A railway was opened from La Défense to Étoile.[citation needed]

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