The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous icons in the world. It’s the pride of France and has contributed significantly to French tourism. However, there was a time when the French actually opposed it.
In 1885 planning had begun for the International Exposition, or World’s Fair of 1889, which was intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and the birth of democracy. The French wanted an impressive monument to be built to celebrate the greatness of France. Hundreds of design proposals were submitted in a competition. The fair’s commissioner chose Gustave Eiffel’s design, but it was so controversial that a petition was signed by over 300 protesting its construction. The tower was to be constructed from Eiffel’s mathematical calculations, but some detractors were worried about safety, despite design features such as guard rails and screens. Others simply viewed it as an eye sore that would overpower the city’s other landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame.
Three hundred men labored for nearly three years to build the structure, which was originally built for a 20 year lease. Parisians were eventually won over by both its design. The tower was almost demolished in 1909, but was spared because its antenna could be used for military purposes. In fact, during WWI, it was said that the tower’s radio antenna played a part in capturing infamous spy Mata Hari.
Until 1930 the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world. Since the time of its construction over 200 million people have visited this French landmark that almost didn’t get built.