The Croix-Rousse prolongs the Peninsula to the north between the Saône and the Rhône and is composed of two distinctive quarters: the slopes and the plateau of the hill. According to literature, ths hill owes its name to a cross built in 1560 out of a yellow-purple stone from Couzon known at the time as ‘pierre rousse’.
In spite of the Roman ruins, and up until the XV century, little historical data has been available. The Croix-Rousse territory really came into being at the Renaissance. From 1512 Louis XII initiated the building of ramparts in the extreme southern end of the plateau where the slopes start. The triangles formed by these fortifications are still visible today and have shaped the topography of the roads and squares.
Between the XVII and XVIII centuries, agricultural activities (vegetables and livestock) took up most of the area but slowly trade took up more space on the Grande Rue and in the Serin quarter. Most of the first houses were built during the second half of the XVIII century: in 1795 there were 5,995 inhabitants. After the Revolution, from 1793 to 1852, the Croix-Rousse witnessed some very agitated moments before becoming part of the economic and political sphere of Lyons. This was a time of major building work and social unrest.
During the Restoration, from 1818 onwards, the silk industry and the large Jacquard looms transformed the economy. The silk-workers, known as the “canuts” and mainly installed at Saint-Georges or on the Peninsula, migrated to the Croix-Rousse which became ‘the hill that works’ in contrast to Fourvière ‘the hill that prays’. On this widely available land, buildings were constructed for the silk trade and new roads were laid; the number of inhabitants consequently jumped to 28,610 in 1852.
One cannot talk about the history of the Croix-Rousse without mentioning the Canut Revolt. In 1831, at a weak point in the textile industry, the workers demanded that their salaries, which were constantly being cut, be maintained. The Croix-Rousse weavers’ revolt, joined by weavers from the Brotteaux and the Guillotière districts, occurred from 21 to 24 November and was severely reprimanded. Another insurrection happened in April 1834, then another in 1848 called “des Voraces”.
Between 1852 and 1871, the Croix-Rousse became part of Lyons and could take advantage of its municipal services: hospitals, the funicular tram in 1863, railway lines in the north, distribution of water and lighting, schools.
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