Paris, the city of love, is one of the most visited cities in the world for its unique features defining it. The buildings are of a stunning beauty highlighting the French architecture. It is also famous for the lights, croissants and baguettes, but we all know that the most iconic thing from Paris is the Eiffel Tower.
The fascinating story about this emblem of Paris is one that not many people know about. The construction of this monument has controversial beginnings, even if in the end he remains an emblem for the city for more than 125 years.
Why was the Eiffel Tower Built?
The French firm ”Eiffel et Compagnie”, owned by French architect and engineer Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, initially designed and constructed the tower for Exposition Universelle in 1889.
The tower was selected to be the entrance to the event, where people from all over the world came to experience its attractions, including theatrical performances and musical shows but also scientific findings.
The design was created by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier. They imagined “a great pylon, consisting of four lattice girders standing apart at the base and coming together at the top, joined together by metal trusses at regular intervals.”
It was depicted by Koechlin in an early sketch in 1884:
Eiffel liked their vision and decided to build the tower as they proposed. Together with a team of engineers and architects, created a three-leveled, 1,063-foot tower made from wrought iron. They also wanted to commemorate the French Revolution, given the fact that the World’s Fair would fall 100 years after its onset. So, for Eiffel, the tower was much more than an entrance, it was the ”expression of France’s gratitude”.
Even if the design for the tower was already established, some people from the public were not on-board with it. They were thinking that the line between art and engineering could be blurred, so a protest group formed by architects, artists, writers and composers was created. They wrote and filed a petition (aptly named Protestation des artistes contre la tour de Monsieur Eiffel, or “Protest Against the Tower of Mr. Eiffel”) in February of 1887, but were too late—construction had already begun in January.
It was opened to the public starting with May of 1889, a few days after the debut of the Exposition Universelle. The elevators were not working until the end of the month, so visitors had to climb 1,719 steps to see the top of the tower. However, more than 30,000 people were fascinated by the elevator-free ascent.
After The Exposition Universelle
In the beginning, the Eiffel Tower was created as a temporary installation, to be demolished after 20 years. But Eiffel hoped to save his creation and suggested that it could be used as a radiotelegraph station. His pitch worked so the tower became a permanent Parisian fixture.
The Eiffel Tower is now the most visited paid monument in the world, having more than 7 million annual sightseers. It remains the tallest building in the City of Lights, captivating tourists with its striking, sky-high silhouette.