Sitting in the middle of the City of Light is the La Dame de Fer (translated to the Iron Lady) as it has come to be known by the Parisians, has a history of love and hate with city’s residents. The road to Eiffel tower’s current iconic and symbolic status hasn’t been an easy one.
The Eiffel Tower has towered over the city of Paris for over 129 years, and it’s currently still the tallest structure in the city. The history of the Eiffel Tower began in 1884. Its design was inspired by Latting Observatory in New York City. The drawn-up plans were done by engineers Maurice Koechlin, Emile Nouguier and architect Stephen Sauvestre.
The engineers worked for the Eiffel Firm; Compagnie des Etablissements Eiffel. Gustave Eiffel, Koechlin, Nouguier and Stephen Eiffel presented their design to the society of civil engineers and won, beating the other 107 proposals. As such Gustave Eiffel’s tower was favored to be the centerpiece of the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
After winning the contract, construction began on January 28th, 1887 and followed a three-stage construction plan that lasted for two years, two months and five days. The Eiffel Tower’s completion on March 3rd, 1889 allowed it to be inaugurated on the same day. During the inauguration, Gustave Eiffel walked the 1710 steps to the top where he placed the French flag.
The construction of the Iron Lady didn’t go without its drama. On February 14th, 1887, 47 artists including the likes of Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Gounod, etc. wrote a letter to Alphand (the 1889 World Fair curator) criticizing the construction of the metal tower in their city. Both Eiffel and Alphand respond in favor of the Tower.
Another problem came in the form of licensing rights. The Tower was fated to be demolished in twenty years. The Eiffel Tower was, however, saved by three critical factors:
• The 1889 World Fair was attended by around 2 million people; almost three times the number of previous World Fairs.
• The building of scientific laboratory allowing for experiments in astronomy and physiology, thus proving its usefulness.
• Gustave proposed its use as a radio antenna tower. This contributed to the capture of Mata Hari in 1914 during the First World War.
In conclusion, the Eiffel Tower journey from the strange metallic spectacle and to some; an abomination, went to become the focal point of many festivities held in Paris. The entire world also associates the Eiffel Tower with Paris as its iconic status improved over the years.