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Eiffel Eyeful (1972)

The 324-meter-high Eiffel Tower is the iconic symbol of both Paris and France. But it wasn’t always so venerated. Built for the 1889 International Exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution, some 300 notable artists, writers, architects, and politicians petitioned to halt its construction. The petition was ignored, and construction began in 1887. (Stephen Sondheim took artistic liberty when he alluded to this dispute in a song from Sunday in the Park With George, set in 1884.) The tower avoided demolition after the Exhibition only because it provided an excellent antenna for the newfangled wireless telegraph. It was the tallest building in the world until 1930.

I visited la tour Eiffel on an overcast and rainy day, so the pictures I have that show its full fabled form are dull and dreary. Instead, here is a view looking straight up from the second floor, 120 meters high, showing some details of the tower’s construction. It may well have been my earliest attempt to find a “creative” photographic solution for the perennial problem of unfavorable weather. This view would probably look a bit different now, since the tower is repainted every five years and underwent extensive restoration between 1980 and 1985.


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