The 1889 World Fair
To mark the bicentennial of the Revolution, local officials decided to hold the World Fair to showcase French talent and creativity. Among the ideas tossed around involved creating a tower. The structure however, wasn’t supposed to endure. The idea was to make the tower for the expo and afterwards it would be taken down. In fact it was suggested that the design should allow for its easy dismantling.
The history of the Eiffel Tower began with the man who bears its name. At the time, he was working on a tower design. He first presented it to officials in Barcelona, Spain. The Spaniards were very much unimpressed. The design looked strange to them. Furthermore they thought it was too expensive and not worth the cost of building.
Because he was turned down, Gustave went to Paris and presented the tower design to the officials. They saw the potential and accepted it.
Harsh Criticism and Disdain
Upon its completion, critics wasted no time in lambasting it. For some critics it looked so outdated, recalling memories of 19th century structures. Other critics said that the lack of floors and levels made it utterly useless and impractical.
In the history of the Eiffel Tower, its open frame style was what received the most criticism though. A lot of famous artists called it a debacle and an utter monstrosity.
Some officials and artists braced for the worst. But during the World Fair in 1889, people loved its unique look. In addition, the elevators allowed the public to go up the tower. It offered a vantage point of Paris that was unmatched. Within a year’s time, the costs had been recovered. It became a huge success.
Although it became very popular, it faced a problem in 1909. At over 20 stories it was well beyond the 7 story limit allowed under the law. The history of the Eiffel Tower would have ended right there had it been taken down. However it was allowed by the government to stand. By that time the structure was already becoming famous and recognized as the symbol of the country.
Facts and Figures
The structure stands 984 feet high. It has a base of 410 sq ft. The lattice like iron are made up of over 1,500 separate pieces, all of which are fused together by over 500,000 rivets. One of the pluses of its open architecture is that it is very resistant to strong winds.
For several years it was the highest structure in the world. It was only in 1931 that its reign was supplanted by the Empire State Building in the United States. But as the history of the Eiffel Tower will show, its status as the symbol of France and one of the wonders of the world will endure.