La Défense business district

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“La Defense” is the business district of France that is significant for its skyscrapers, all more than 30 storeys high. It is located west of the city proper, in the district the Hauts-de-Seine and marks the end of historical centre. All the skyscrapers are built along a central esplanade (le Parvis).

The name La Defence gained this area according the statue “La Defense de Paris” that was built in 1883 in the honour of soldiers who had died in Franco-Prussian War.

The works to rebuild the area started in 1958. The first buildings (the Esso Tower as the very first one) started to replace the old factories, shanties and farms. Eight years later, in 1966, the first office building was built – the Nobel Tower. There were other two waves in which new buildings were created – in 1970s, but mainly in 1980s (after the economic crises). The biggest commercial center in Europe (at the time), the “Quatre Temps”, was created in 1981. A year later, the construction of Grande Arche began at the west of the quarter (it weighs 300,000 tons, is 110 metres high and 70 meters wide). It was finished in 1989.

The tallest skyscraper so far was built in 1985 and it belongs to “Total”. It has 187 metres, 48 floors and it is the second tallest building in Paris, after the Tour Montparnasse. (In 1974 the construction on the building Tour AXA started. It is planned to be finished in 2009 and it will have 61 floors – 225 metres.) In 1992 Line 1 of Paris metro was extended to La Defense.

The area is divided into 12 sectors. There is 3,5 million square metres of offices. It is the largest CBD in Europe and one of the major financial centres in the world. There are several important corporations headquarters located in La Defense – “Cegetel”, “Société Générale”, “Total”, “Aventis”, and “Arcelor”. Besides that, there is 210 000 square metres of shops and 2600 hotel rooms. One can walk on 310 000 square metres of sidewalks and flagstones or 110 000 square metres of greenery. There are 60 modern sculptures and monuments.
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