The statuesque Eiffel Tower is undeniably one of France's greatest gifts to the world. If you've ever been curious about the pride of Paris, here are some photos to tell you the story behind its construction!
It all began with a design competition during the Exposition Universelle in 1889, to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. Stories tell of more than 100 entries despite the short deadline, ranging from the most boring to the most outrageous. Luckily for the future tourists of the famed French metropolis, the winning design was the brainchild of Gustave Eiffel, a structural engineer who specialized on metals. Monsieur Eiffel proposed a monument of colossal proportions—a wrought iron lattice tower standing 300 meters tall and weighing 7,000 tons to represent France’s progress. It would also have a 4,200 sqm glass-paneled gallery on the first level, a 900 sqm gallery on the second level, and a 250 sqm glass-paneled dome on the third level.
However, there was one catch for the superb engineer—the contract he received from the committee specified that Eiffel himself and not his company would be solely responsible for all aspects of the project, including financing, construction, and maintenance during the exhibit. In return, he would be granted 1.5 million francs and all income that would be generated from the tower’s commercial use for 20 years after the exhibit closes. It was definitely a risky agreement, as the estimated cost for the tower project was 6 million francs.
Nevertheless, Eiffel obtained the designated construction site at Champ de Mars and officially began his preparations for the project on January 1, 1887. The tower was completed in 1889, inaugurated on March 31, and opened to the public on may May 6.
At first, people heavily criticized the tower and called it an eyesore. Provisions of the tower’s contract allowed it to stand for 20 years, and was set to be demolished in 1909, the parcel of land returned to the City of Paris. However, when the tower was considered useful for communication purposes, it remained standing after the contract expired. The tower eventually held the title of the world’s tallest man-made structure until 1930.
Now, on to the photos of the beautiful tower’s construction:
Sources and additional readings:
If you liked this article, you may also want to read Location articles on Paris and the Eiffel Tower!