Haussmann and Napoleon III were right
The student uprising may have been crushed, but the physical terrain of the French capital at the time was favorable to armed insurgents -- as shown by the successful uprisings of 1830 and 1848. The narrow streets and confined districts of Jean Valjean's and Marius's Paris provided cover to partisans, repeatedly thwarting efforts of government troops called in to restore "order" to the city. This is partially due to the rigid tactics favored by the governments of the day, where relatively large units marched down the street in formation.
The French authorities eventually learned their lesson. Following the collapse of the Second Republic in 1851, Napoleon III established the Second Empire. Among his most significant reforms during this period was commissioning Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann to redesign Paris, transforming it into the city we know today. Though aesthetic considerations drove demand for green spaces and new building facades, the desire to exert better control over rioting Parisians played a significant role. One of the central design elements of Haussmann's Paris is wide boulevards -- specifically, the width of a cavalry squadron in extended line.
This is where urban planning intersects with military plans. In addition to its boulevards, Paris's famous circles are spaced to allow for interlocking fields of (cannon) fire. Haussmann isolated the most rebellious neighborhoods from the 1848 July Days by filling in a canal. He also placed Paris's grand railway stations so that they would be rapidly accessibly by government troops, and designed urban blocks so that corner buildings were set back from the intersections -- making them next to impossible to barricade, while simultaneously bringing light and air into city streets. After 1968, most of the city's cobblestone roads were also paved over to prevent the pavers from being used as projectiles in future protests.
This isn't just historical trivia from a bygone era: Modern urban planners are still looking for ways to move people and goods through a living city, while still securing it from attack. There are few better examples than Haussmann's Paris.
Beyond the Battle of Algiers
While Paris may have a history of revolutions, urban uprisings don't actually have a great history of success. One of the few pieces of received wisdom in counterinsurgency circles is the futility of urban revolts. Concentration of state security forces in built-up areas and the isolation of urban populations from potential sources of support have traditionally made it difficult to organize, recruit, and operate in cities. Urban rebel groups are thus typically detected and suppressed before they can reach a critical mass -- see, for example, how easily Inspector Javert is able to infiltrate the student group spearheading the uprising.
But this conventional wisdom is changing, driven by grinding urban insurgencies in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Fallujah. It may now be possible to organize and train virtually, allowing networks and capabilities to grow without attracting the attention of modern-day Javerts. Rapidly growing urban spaces like Karachi and Lagos combine weak governance, informal settlements, and choking population density, which offer sanctuary to proto-insurgents. Add to this the ready availability of modern telecommunications, global finance networks, and regional and international transport, and these mega-cities present a perfect storm of means, motive, and opportunity for modern insurgents.
Having built a counterinsurgency doctrine based on the experience of Frenchmen fighting communist peasants, we may now need to update our framework to address a much more urban and inter-connected environment. Innovations in aerial surveillance, big data, and network mapping provide some tools for modern-day Javerts. But the protagonists of urban mayhem -- protesters, revolutionaries, warlords, and crime bosses -- will likely continue to sing the songs of angry men for years to come.