When city walls in Paris were deemed useless, unsightly and obstructing commerce, they were taken down and replaced with trees. And so, the French boulevard was created.
Between 1853 and 1870, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann was given the task of renovating Paris. The objective was to turn a medieval city into a modern one. That meant improving sanitation, water supply and traffic circulation.
However, circling the city were its ramparts. Baron Haussmann found the ramparts to be counterproductive as a defense in modern, mobile warfare and they obstructed commerce and city life. So, he removed and replace them with roads lined with trees that roughly circled Paris. He reasoned that without the ramparts it would be easier to move troops to defend Paris, rather than the city walls which restricted movement.
And so, the name for the flat part atop a rampart (the boulevard) was used to describe the broad, tree-lined streets that replaced them.
This past Thursday, Vishal Mishra and Seema Bhat experienced the joys of walking along a boulevard at the Google campus in Mountain View. Then, they went in search of others, perhaps thanking Baron Haussmann during their stroll for taking down the city walls of Paris 150 years ago.