Antony is a French commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Antony is a sub-prefecture of the Hauts-de-Seine department and the seat of the Arrondissement of Antony.
Watered by the Bièvre, a tributary of the Seine, Antony is located at the crossroads of very important transport routes, especially the main north-south axis which has existed for 2,000 years. Little urbanized until the early 20th century, the city grew considerably between the two wars, under Senator-Mayor Auguste Mounié, from 4,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. In the early 1960s the population quickly increased from 25,000 to 50,000 to accommodate the repatriated people from Algeria. Now incorporated in the Paris Metropolitan Area, it is particularly strong in education with one of the largest private institutions in France and in the health field with the largest private establishment in Île-de-France.
The inhabitants of the commune are known as Antoniens or Antoniennes
The commune has been awarded two flowers by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.
Related article: Île-de-France.
Antony has a long history starting from the 3rd century in the Gallo-Roman era. The history of the commune merges with that of the Royal Domain formed in the 10th century by the Capetian kings which gave rise to the Île-de-France region.
Prehistoric and Gallo-Roman era
In prehistoric times people settled along the edges of the plateau overlooking the valley. The remains of their settlements are still visible in the Bois de Verrières. The selection of sites was from the beginning conditioned by water and access. The village which later gave birth to Antony was installed in a location conducive to human settlement: a hillside site with many advantages - easy to protect because of its height with richer soil than that on the plateau and in an area not subject to flooding as it was above the marshes but at the level of water sources that rise from the green marl. The many fountains in Rue de l'Eglise and the Avenue du Bois-de-Verrières and the place names (Sources, Gouttieres (Gutters)...) testify to the existence of this Water table.
In 1852, when the cemetery was being moved from in front of the church, sarcophagi were discovered which were originally supposed to be Frankish or Merovingian. This allows the supposition that there was a constant presence of people around the Gallo-Roman villa.
Antony from the 10th to the 15th centuries
From the 10th to the 15th century the Lordship of Antony was one of the main dependencies of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The location at Antony had a ford called Pont-aux-Ânes (Bridge of the Asses) from Roman and medieval times. This hillside location provided Antony with a connection with Montlhéry, a stronghold which monitored the southern approaches to Paris. Antony also had a small fortress, the Tour d'Argent (Tower of Silver) which was located in the upper part of the village in a position overlooking the ford and possibly serving a defensive function.
In 1042, the King of France, Henri I, accorded the abbot of Saint-Germain des Près "an altar dedicated to Saint Saturnin and located in the territory of Paris, in the jurisdiction called Paris".
In 1177 in recognition of the importance of the village Antony chapel became a parish church. The people were then all serfs of the Abbey. City dwellers then began to get communal Charters and those campaigns began the great liberation movement that led to the emancipation of the serfs.
The decisive date was in 1248: Thomas de Mauleon, the Abbot of Saint-Germain des Près, freed his serfs in Antony and Verrières. Many expenses still faced these farmers: they had to pay an annual rent, tithes for the mills, ovens, and presses, and also provide Corvées or unpaid labour, such as cleaning the Bièvre every three years.
During the 14th and 15th centuries Antony had troubles from the Hundred Years War then the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War: plagues, famine and devastation. At the end of this long period, the Abbey was crushed by debt and the region was emptied of its inhabitants. There were only 100 inhabitants left in Antony at the end of the wars.
In 1346 King Philip of Valois, on his way to the feast of the Assumption, camped in Antony believing that Edward III, King of England, would pass through there on his way to Flanders. The prince waited in vain for two days, the King of England having passed through Poissy heading towards Beauvais.
The opening up (16th to 18th centuries)
The road from Paris to Orléans was paved under François I: it crossed the Bièvre at the Pont d'Antony from which a path led to the centre of the village near the church of Saint-Saturnin. The development of this road led to the development of the city.
In 1545 François I, while at prayers with Cardinal de Tournon, Commendatory abbot of Saint Germain, gave letters patent for the establishment of fairs at Antony on Thursday after Pentecost and on Saint Catherine's day (25 November) as well as a market every Thursday.
At the end of the 17th century and early in the 18th century, Antony became a holiday town close to Paris: La Fontaine and Charles Perrault took their summer quarters there. This is also the period during which many mansions were built by notable Parisian who came to Antony for the countryside just outside Paris. Most mansions still remained in the middle of the 20th century: the old castle, the property of the actor François Molé, the folly of the Castries family in Heller Park now demolished but an outbuilding remains, the house of the Belle Levantine (now the Maison Saint-Jean), the property of the Ladies of Saint Raphael, and the property of Ballainvilliers purchased in 1860 by the surgeon Alfred Velpeau.
Development in the 19th century
Antony remained predominantly agricultural until the early 20th century. Le Petit Journal wrote in 1922: "The pretty commune of Antony is one of those, in the suburbs of Paris, where agriculture is still the most thriving". The city was known for its coaching inn for horses that welcomed travelers at the crossroads called "Croix de Berny" because it was at the intersection of the royal road, dating from the 18th century, leading from Versailles to Choisy-le-Roi, and the road from Paris to Orléans with the intersection in the north-west corner of the Château de Berny Park.
The construction of the railway profoundly transformed the activity of the city when the Sceaux line opened in 1854 then the Arpajonnais line in 1893. The building of mansions continued: the property of the Marquis of Castries was demolished and replaced in the Second Empire by Sarran Castle and Bourdeau Park whose remains have today become the Maison des Arts (Art House).
Antony became the seat of numerous religious congregations. The Sisters of the Cross of Saint-André who had a girls' religious school at Antony since 1720, in 1928 became the Institute of the Cross, then The Cross before being integrated into the Institution of Sainte-Marie of Antony which incorporated several religious congregations. The Marianists bought the Chénier property and installed their French seminar. Returning after their expulsion in 1903, their building became the Maison Saint-Jean, now a retreat for Marianists. In 1968 they created the Institution of Sainte-Marie of Antony.
The Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) purchased the property of the surgeon Velpeau on 5 August 1889 to build their novitiate. Following the Separation of Church and State in 1905 they had to leave Antony as they were expelled on 13 June 1908. They had meanwhile built very large buildings which were taken by the Seine Department and became the Paul-Manchon day nursery.
In 1890 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny bought the buildings of the former royal manufactory of waxes. They installed a nursing home for the sisters returning from the colonies. The main building is now a retreat for the sisters of this congregation.
The Ladies of Saint Raphael settled in 1893. Their work was to host single mothers to help ensure their safe child-bearing and also ran a school founded by Father Amédée Ferrand de Missol (1805-1883), a physician who became a priest, friend and companion of Frédéric Ozanam. These religious left Antony in 1972 after creating a similar place in Colombia. The school was closed and the association was taken over by the laity.
Development in the 20th century
The first major development in Antony was performed under the guidance of its Senator-Mayor Augustus Mounié: the city went from 4,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. Elected mayor in 1912, he immediately attacked the problem of housing. Nicknamed in the newspaper "Le Père des mal-lotis" (The Father of the poor), he created more than forty associations of the poor to carry out sanitation of housing. He built schools, many roads, and installed street lighting.
In 1940 refugees flocking to the capital to go south. The mayor organised dormitories in schools and sought to supply the refugees by any means and 7,000 Antonians remained on site out of 19,000 inhabitants. Schools were emptied: students and teachers were first sent to Savigny-sur-Braye, then Saumur, and finally Bouille-Loretz. On 14 June 1940 the Germans come into town and used the stadium and the Jules Ferry school as places to hold 8,000 prisoners of war.
The second development was a consequence of the very rapid housing construction in the early 1960s to accommodate the returnees from Algeria. Rapid urbanization led to the construction of small buildings but also low-rise apartments such as "The Grand L" famous for its interior corridors 174 metres long and a height of 11 floors which was demolished in February 2001. In twenty years, from 1955 to 1975, the population increased from 24,512 to 57,795 inhabitants . During this period, the city built eleven nursery and primary schools, three colleges, one school, a large stadium, five school gyms with a sports centre, a sports park, two leisure centres, a swimming pool, a city hall, and thousands of units of social housing. The new city hall is a modern work by architect Georges Felus and was inaugurated on 19 June 1970.
The 1990s saw the reconstruction of the library in 1990 then in 1996 the fire station and the Conservatory of Music. Finally the 2000s would see the end of the development work undertaken for nearly forty years in the Croix-de-Berny quarter. This quarter, a strategic crossroads of communication (the A86, A6, A10, and near Orly Airport and RER B), near the Parc de Sceaux, was redeveloped to attract businesses and therefore create jobs. It is predicted that in total 7,000 jobs will be created in this district.
The Arms of Antony were adopted on 20 June 1919 but have since been simplified. The latest version dates to 1987.
The bridge that was on the river has recently disappeared from the shield, but the motto remains: "parvus ubi pagus fuit Urbem jam alluit unda" meaning: "where there was a village, the river now waters a city".
The original coat of arms of 1919 are officially blazoned as: "Quarterly, 1 and 4 Azure with three fleurs-de-lis of Or with an escutcheon at Fess-point Sable with three roundels Argent; 2 and 3 quarterly, 1 and 4 Gules with a column Argent, in chief (sewn) Azure a lion passant of Or, 2 and 3 Azure with three bends of Or, in chief (sewn) Azure with a lion issuant of Or; over all in Vert a bridge of Argent masoned and Ajouré in Sable over a river Argent.".
In summary: the fleurs-de-lis, escutcheons, and roundels are for the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the tower evokes the old fortress overlooking the Bièvre ford; the lion is from the arms of Hugues de Lionne, first Marquis of Berny and French Foreign Minister (1663-1671).