An iron lattice tower, La Tour Eiffel has long been France’s global cultural icon and one of the most visited monuments in the world. Paris has many a landmark that could claim grandeur, but perhaps none other quite as well known.
Not everyone shared the engineer’s enthusiasm for the project. A “Committee of Three Hundred” that included some of the most important figures of the French arts establishment sent a petition to the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, criticising the project. Their letter was later published by Le Temps:
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower…To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all humiliates monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream…”
Yet Gustave Eiffel’s speech on the 30th of March 1885, to the Société des Ingiénieurs Civils had been proved correct in its claim that the tower would come to symbolise:
“not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.”
~ All this… and so much more ~