Blogathon, June 3

So, I’m obviously fixated on the Eiffel Tower, its 2.5 million rivets, and 7,300 tons of wrought iron from any angle. I’m fascinated by how such heavy metal can be so graceful. As I say in Five Buildings of Paris, it’s a marvel of late nineteenth century engineering. And yet, typical of the French intelligentsia of the day (or of today’s critics of any new Parisian building), it was widely criticized and branded, a “truly tragic street lamp,” and a “hole-riddled suppository,” among other derisory nicknames. Destined to die twenty years after the 1889 World Exposition, it became a scientific site—thanks to Monsieur Eiffel’s ingenuity—that has endured to become the global, quintessential icon of Paris.

The above tree-framed view is from Pont Mirabeau which connects the 16th and 15th arrondissements. Without the Eiffel Tower arising from the banks of the Seine, the view in either direction could well be anywhere in the world (see photos below).

Today, at night, its rays emit golden sparkles of light for five minutes every hour on the hour until 1AM, and its beacon rotates 360 degrees, shining its light on all of Paris.

A bit of trivia:

  • On inauguration day, the elevator broke forcing Gustave Eiffel and various dignitaries to traipse up 1,665 steps to plant a flag at the top.
  • In 1898, it was a radio broadcast tower and now emits television signals.
  • In 1903, it was a military radio post.
  • In 1925, it initiated the first public radio program.
  • In 1980, Superman saved the Eiffel Tower from terrorists (still paying attention?).
  • For the duration of the French Open at Roland Garros, a giant yellow tennis ball hangs from the lower level.

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