by Kathryn Hadley
Studies and plans for the design of the Eiffel Tower began in 1884. Work on digging the first foundations began on January 26th, 1887. The construction of the tower lasted two years, two months and five days. It was inaugurated on March 31st, 1889, and was officially opened on May 6th for the first day of the 1889 Universal Exhibition. Between its official opening in May 1889 and December 31st, 2008, 243 376 000 people visited the Eiffel Tower and over the past 120 years it has inspired countless films, songs, books, poems and works of art, as well as sporting feats and challenges. It has received numerous visits from celebrities and political figures, including Thomas Edison, Dwight Eisenhower, Youri Gagarine, Rajiv Gandhi, Michel Platini, Hu Jintao and Michael Jackson, and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions both in France and across the world, from Venezuela, Mexico, Panama and the United States, to Europe, Japan and Shanghai.
This year, to mark the 120th anniversary of the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, two exhibitions in particular are being held in Paris. ‘Gustave Eiffel, le magicien du fer’ is on show at the town hall until the end of August and tells the story of the construction of the tower and its creator through a display of photos, paintings, sketches and models. ‘Tales of the Eiffel Tower’ opens, tomorrow, on the first floor and the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. It includes a display of posters, photos, illustrations and interactive presentations, which chart the construction of the tower, how it has inspired artists throughout its history and has been replicated and represented throughout the world.
The official website of the Eiffel Tower includes a ‘Documentation’ section with statistics and information about the history of the tower, its maintenance and its legacy and influence over the past 120 years. For further information, visit http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/
For further information about the controversy and protest sparked by the construction of the Eiffel Tower, read our article Eiffel's Tower
Gustave Eiffel, le magicien du fer
Until August 28th
Hotel de Ville
5, rue de Lobau
Tales of the Eiffel Tower
May 15th – December 31st
5 avenue Anatole FranceChamps de Mars75007 Paris