A friend pointed out to me, as did the rest of Twitter, that today, March 31, 2014, is the 125th anniversary of La Tour Eiffel!
I’ll spare you the history lesson – you can find that anywhere on Google – but as a quick refresher, the Eiffel Tower was built in conjunction with the 1889 Exposition Universelle (aka “World’s Fair”). It was on the receiving end of quite a bit of derision at the time. Who knew it would one day become the city’s most iconic landmark?
La Tour Eiffel doesn’t play a huge role in A Paris Apartment (which comes out three weeks from tomorrow – gulp!) but it does get a mention courtesy of Marthe de Florian’s (fictionalized) journals. On 1 July 1900, eleven years after la tour’s debut and at the start of another Exposition Universelle, she writes:
“Paris doesn’t even look like Paris but instead a lady heavy-handed with makeup. The powers that be couldn’t let our lovely buildings stand for themselves. Oh, poor Haussmann! All that architectural genius only to have his work covered by facades! We look like a fat, overly made-up, over-blown Venice. Le Comte took me to Venice twice and it’s nothing spectacular.
“The committee spent years determining this exposition’s clou, its signature building to compete with the La Tour Eiffel. Some even wanted to transform la tour itself. One faction suggested turning it into a 325 meter tall woman with searchlights for eyes. During the fair beams would shoot from her head and scan the crowds. In the end, the committee came to its senses, slapped on a fresh coat of gold paint, and went to work constructing new buildings and bridges and palaces.”
A little snippet from A Paris Apartment to celebrate the 125th anniversary!