ICONS ARE BETTER #37: THE EIFFEL TOWER
The iron icon of Paris grows six inches (ahem) in the sun, and is the most visited paid monument in the world.
Universally known and unique in structure, it symbolises the industrial strength of France and connotes romance – which the two million people who’ve got engaged there (including Tom Cruise) seem to agree with.
But initially, the people of Paris hated it.
Sacré bleu! I hear you cry! But oui it is true. And that’s what makes this icon special, it wasn’t born an icon, it was made one.
Protruding on to the virginal skyline of Paris – the arty crowds of 1887 revolted against the idea. Forming the ‘artists protest’ a mix of 300 (one for every metre of the tower’s height) artists, sculptors and architects sent a petition to the Commissioner of the Paris exhibition, to halt the erection of this industrial iron member.
Note: the aesthetics of the tower have not changed. But what has changed is the public’s perception of it. Enter the eponymous engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. What Eiffel did was change the way it was packaged to the people. Designed as a centennial commemoration of the French revolution, this winning design was meant to be demolished after 20 years, but Eiffel made sure to stress the utilisation of the tower for advances in science and communication, meaning the tower’s four sturdy legs remained in place, for another 106 years and counting.
Since then, through a plethora of literature and film, brought to you (ironically) by the kind of creative types who once failed at thwarting it, it is now one of the most romanticised objects in history.
But it’s the chic brand of Parisian romance that makes this romantic icon unique – the dreamy, bohemian kind of love, that sets this icon apart in people’s minds as well as in their hearts.
Stef Youmans – Runner