The Ideal City of the Ivory Coast

Tony Garnier Urban Museum And the Etats-Unis District, Lyon

If Lyon’s lively murals captured your imagination, you might like to wander down to the Etats-Unis district for a visit to the Tony Garnier Urban Museum (4 rue des Serpollieres,, where 25 unique murals celebrate the works of this Lyon architect and town planner.

tony garnier urban museum mural

tony east lyon plaque

tony garnier urban museum lyon entrance

Garnier was responsible for several important structures in Lyon’s east. The old city slaughterhouses, Halle Tony Garnier, are now an auditorium used for shows and exhibitions. The Gerland Stadium, Edouard Herriot Hospital at Grange Blanche and the Tony Garnier public housing development are all creations that he worked on.

les abbatoirs de la mouche

The slaughter-house of La Mouche: a covered market that is part of the 'City of meat' covering over 61 acres. Cattle were sold here.

les annees 1900s Tony Garnier

Les annees 1900 - the 1900s, the time in which Garnier evolves. The top half depicts the industrial area while advertisements tell a story of the progression of time.

He may not have become as well known had it not been for his partnership with Edouard Herriot, who was the mayor of Lyon during the 1920s when their utopia came into existence. Herriot announced his plan to create a “plan for the extension and embellishment of the City of Lyon” in 1912. He foresaw the creation of an industrial boulevard that would co-exist with the workers’ housing. This was a natural fit for Garnier, who had been hard at work on his project of an ideal “Industrial City.” Because the United States had entered into the world conflict by 1917, Herriot thought it would be fitting to give the industrial boulevard the name “Etats-Unis Avenue.”

station tony garnier

The station

inside the houses

Garnier studied in Italy and it is possible to see Mediterranean influences in his work. He favoured simple and functional shapes for the interior of the houses.

etats unis tony garnier

It would be in the area where the museum is now situated that this grand idea would be born. Prior to the construction of the public housing estate, the area was rural with only a few cottages and farms dotting the fields. Small country housing estates sprang up around 1900. In between the wars, shacks were built alongside inexpensive public housing. The housing and employment crisis brought many people to this area seeking factory work and a place to live. Garnier’s council houses weren’t fully realized until around 1921, with the first tenants moving in 12 years later. These buildings underwent renovations from 1985 to 1997. Later it was decided to paint the windowless walls with murals as homage to the complex’s creator, a project that was undertaken by CitéCréation, who are also responsible for many of the murals around Lyon.

tony garnier public housing

hospital tony garnier

A hospital in utopia. The Eduoard Herriot hospital is built along the same principles as this drawing: residential, isolated, peaceful.

clock tower

The Clock Tower

dog lyon

The museum itself is an open-air museum. Pick up a guidebook when you buy your ticket for an explanation of the various panels. The neighbourhood’s 4,000 inhabitants are also part of the exhibit in a way, as you’ll be passing through their parks and corridors, and perhaps visiting their local shops as you enjoy your tour.

ideal city of india

The museum also includes a section of murals called "Ideal Cities of the World." These have been imagined by international artists. This one is the Ideal City of India.

ideal mexico lyon

The Ideal City of Mexico by Marisa Lara and Arturo Guerrero

ideal city of russia gregory chestakov
The Ideal City of Russia by Gregory Chestakov
The Ideal City of the Ivory Coast

The Ideal City Of the Ivory Coast by Youssouf Bath

ideal city of quebec
There are several other murals on display in the Etats-Unis District that are technically not part of the museum. Here, for example, is the Ideal City of Quebec.

Getting there: Take the tram T2 east to the T4 (direction porte des Alpes; the change is at the Jet d’eau/Mendes France stop). Take T4 direction hospital Feyzin and stop at Etats-Unis/musee Tony Garnier.

Our time in Lyon was hosted by Rhône-Alpes Tourisme and ONLYLYON Tourisme et Congrès. All opinions, however, are always our own.

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9 years ago

I’ve really been enjoying your posts on Lyon! I love France but have never been to Lyon, nor did I know much about it.

9 years ago
Reply to  Travelogged

Oh I’m so glad! =) If you love France, you must get to Lyon!

9 years ago

Now these murals I definitely have to see for myself! Amazing works of art! How wonderful would it be to live or stay in this district!

9 years ago
Reply to  Antoinette

I agree – would be such a cool place to live.

9 years ago

Love, love, love that photo of the dog! The murals are amazing too. I had no idea this existed in Lyon. It was already on my list to visit for the festival of light, which I also just heard about a few months ago.

9 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

I would so love to go for the festival – would be even more beautiful at night!

What a great idea! Beautiful murals, and I love the opportunity to stop at local shops along the way!

9 years ago

Yes, there are a decent number of shops around…mostly ones for the locals like a pet store, but still interesting.

9 years ago

The murals are fantastic but I admit my favorite pic is the one of the dog. 🙂

9 years ago
Reply to  Krista

Me too, Krista – he was too cute not to photograph!

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