When most people think of the Eiffel Tower today, they imagine this grand magnificent structure that stands tall and symbolizes the city of Paris. However, over 200 years ago, this was not the image local Parisians had of this structure. Even before the construction of the Tower started, there were already negative opinions formed about it. There was this one famous writer of the time that could be considered the Eiffel Tower’s number one critic. His name was Guy de Maupassant. He stated that the Tower to be a nightmare and useless (Weber). He even collected colleagues of his to create a petition against the Eiffel Tower but fortunately for us today, the petition failed and the construction of the Eiffel Tower continued.
After the completion of the Eiffel Tower, the critiques did not cease. Local Persians believed that the tower was going to collapse on them and destroy their homes (Linkparis.com). Traditionalists of the city described the tower as, “a black and gigantic factory chimney, a lighthouse, a nail, a chandelier, and a funnel planted on its fat butt” (Weber). Ironically, Guy de Maupassant was one of the Eiffel Tower’s largest haters but he spent most of his time in the Tower’s restaurant. He believed that it was the only place in the city where you could not see the ugly tower (Weber).
Since the tower was built for the World’s Fair, it was the main attraction and visited by many. It was reported that almost two million people came to see the Eiffel Tower during the six month fair and thirty thousand climbed the stairs in the first week (Eiffel Tower). Once the World’s Fair was over, the Tower was supposed to be demolished but it became part of the city. It was used for science experiments and Parisians got used to the Tower and started to appreciate it. It did not take too long after the completion for the Eiffel Tower to become the focal point of many pieces of art work. It also made appearances in other art forms as well such as movies, advertisements, and pieces of literature (Eiffel Tower).
With a well-known symbol in today’s times, we often forget that it may have meant something different originally. This is exactly what happened with Paris’s Eiffel Tower. Today we can’t imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower standing tall, but local Parisians 200 years ago couldn’t imagine the concept of the Tower being built. As one writer, Ronald Bartles, states, “[the Eiffel Tower] attracts meaning, the way a lightning rod attracts thunderbolts” (Weber).
To read how the Eiffel Tower has influenced recent culture, click here
“Eiffel Tower.” Google Culture Institute. Google, 2013. Web. 23 October 2013. <https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/collection/tour-eiffel?v.view=grid>.
LinkParis.com. The day trips from Paris and Paris Tours Company, 2013. Web. 23 October 2013. < http://www.linkparis.com/eiffel-tower.htm>.
Weber, Caroline. “Lightning Rods and Slide Shows.” Sunday Book Review. The New York Times, 2009. Web. 23 October 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/books/review/Weber-t.html?_r=0>.