27 March 2024


Zoom lecture

Monuments of Paris 4

The Story of the Eiffel Tower

with Mariam Habibi

Gustave Eiffel, c. 1889
Gustave Eiffel, c. 1889

Had it not been for the determination of its maker, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel tower, the iconic symbol of Paris, would not have seen the day. The 300-meter-tall tower surpassed any existing edifice at the time. It challenged the conventional norms of beauty. It celebrated modernity, art and the coming age of Industry and Science.


The tower met with a great deal of opposition before its completion for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 – the exhibition commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. For its detractors, ‘the hateful column of bolted sheet iron’ would dominate and humiliate Paris’ beautiful monuments. For Gustave Eiffel, his tower would be the emblem of France’s creativity, a fitting prolongation of France’s prominence in the world since the French Revolution. Its construction would be both an industrial feat and a patriotic act.


Prepared for the centenary of the death of Gustave Eiffel in 2023, this talk will tell the story of the life of Gustave Eiffel and the story of the tower. It will give an account of how his tower came to be built and the legacy Eiffel left behind.

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