Since a boy, I have had a strange fascination with the Eiffel Tower. We studied it at school and since that day I was hooked. I had always wanted to go visit both the city and the impressive structure – eventually reaching it’s summit in March 2004.
I don’t know what it is about the structure that I love so much; it’s shape? its size? but whatever it is, it even led me to buy both a fridge magnet and tacky souvenir mini tower keyring on my visit! Both of which aren’t normally my style!
I was only in Paris for 3 days – but I returned time and time again to the structure. I took mountains of photographs and still feel the same affiliation and interest in it as I did as a boy!
On my research, I found that surprisingly only one man died in its construction. If I believed in reincarnation, maybe that man could have been me in a former life! Who knows!? Ironically, until that day in 2004 – I was not scared of heights. But on climbing the tower to the first stage on it’s steel steps, I felt dizzy and suffered waves of vertigo for the first time in my life. I reached the stage – but continued to the next two by lift. On reaching the top I felt at peace, although the journey down in the glass elevator had me feeling dizzy once more. Since that day I now get claustrophobic and vertigo; coincidence or cause?
Maybe I’m being like the city – too romantic and fantastical for my own good, but whatever my connection, I can look at old postcards and images of the structure for hours..and hours on end.
I always dreamt of getting a little job in a piano bar in Paris and living in a top floor / attic apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Always the romantic old fool! How very Moulin Rouge of me!
Now for abit of history, stolen from Wikipedia and other sites. The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona for its 1888 Exhibition, but City Hall thought it a strange and expensive construction which did not fit into the design of their beautiful city. After Barcelona’s refusal, Eiffel submitted his draft to Paris, where he would start to build his tower a year later.
Work on the foundations began on the 26th January 1887 and took five months with the workers only using spades. The rubble was taken away by carts drawn by horses and steam locomotives. The four pillars of the Eiffel Tower stand in a square that measures 125 metres on each side. They are oriented in line with the four cardinal points. Whilst there was no problem building pillars 2 & 3 on the Champs-de-Mars side, on the Seine River side pillars 1 & 4 required air-compressed foundations using corrugated steel cassions five metres under water. The deepest foundations lay just 15 metres underground.
When it was completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was the highest structure in the world, measuring 300 meters (984 feet) and weighing 7,300 tons. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin.
The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May. That day, Gustav Eiffel climbed the 1,710 steps of the Tower to plant the French flag at its peak.
It was initially only granted a 20-year permit; although alot of Parisians hated it, feeling it domineered their skyline, went against the art and culture of their city and petitioned for it to be taken down. Eiffel replied: “The Tower will be the highest edifice ever raised by man – will it not therefore be grandiose as well, in its way? Why would what is admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris? I’ve sought an answer, and must confess have found none!”
The permit was extended and now the Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most famous structures, having become synonymous with Paris and France itself and one of the seven wonders of the world, receiving more than six million visitors annually.
William Henry Goodyear (1846–1923) traveled to the Paris Exposition with photographer Joseph Hawkes, bringing back numerous images from the exhibition including street life, vistas, pavilions, statues, the Eiffel Tower and other structures and decorative details.
Doesn’t it look stunning. I sure wish I had gone to that! Whatever the reason for its appeal, I hope to visit it again really soon. Although I think I’ll only manage the first stage this time!
I went through my photographs of my visit and subsequent views from the tower’s summit. Unfortunately, due to my journey being before I bought my first digital camera, alot of the pictures are blurred and don’t do the spectacular views any justice at all… so I’ll let you experience them first hand yourself.
If you love all things French then please check out my friends blog listed on the right of my page. She sells beautiful French images and postcards. A bientôt.