6 May: Bonjour, Eiffel

The lifts weren’t operational, so there weren’t any visitors, but the commemorative coins had already been minted – so it was 6th May, 1889 that went down in history as the official opening of the Eiffel Tower, at that time the world’s tallest man-made structure.

Erected for the World’s Fair to commemorate 100 years since the French Revolution, it was designed to be dismantled after a few years – not least because there was significant opposition to it from some of Paris’s best known artists – yet it remains an iconic part of the Paris skyline to this day.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the committee came to choose this unusual structure for their centennial celebrations; compare Gustav Eiffel’s elevated office space to Donald Trump’s; and explain how radio transmissions saved the Tower from its intended fate… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The artists who protested the Eiffel Tower’ (Tour Eiffel Official Website): https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/news/130-years/artists-who-protested-eiffel-tower

• ‘Gustave Eiffel’s Secret Apartment – Paris, France’ (Atlas Obscura, 2006): https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/gustave-eiffels-secret-apartment

• ‘Deconstructing History: Eiffel Tower’ (History, 2016):