Monday, March 31, 2008

On this date in 1889 ...

From The Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was inaugerated in Paris. It was built for the Paris Exposition as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and also as a demonstration of the structural capabilities of iron.

The tower elicited strong reactions after its opening. A petition of 300 names, including writers Guy de Maupassant, Émile Zola, and Alexandre Dumas the younger, was sent to the city government protesting its construction. The petition read, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects, and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigor and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."

De Maupassant described it as, "A high and skinny pyramid of iron ladders, [a] giant ungainly skeleton upon a base that looks built to carry a colossal monument of Cyclops, but which just peters out into a ridiculous thin shape like a factory chimney." He hated the tower so much that he started eating in its restaurant every day, because, he said, "It is the only place in Paris where I don't have to see it."


Kelvin Oliver said...

Never really read anything about the Eiffle Tower. It seems to be ironic that the guy hated the tower that he ate at the restuarant every day. Very amusing. We all learn something every day. If there is something that we know now that we didn't know yesterday, then today, we have learned something. I hope that make sense.

CrustyPolemicist said...

Makes perfect sense to me. If you're not learning, you're not living. The Parisians have a long history of hating great works of art/engineering, and then eventually embracing them. When Stravinsky's groundbreaking work "Le Sacre du Printemps" was performed in Paris in 1912, the audience rioted, and it was only by luck that Stravinsky was able to leap out a lavatory window and make good his escape. Now they have a public square called "Place Igor Stravinsky", filled with ultra modern art pieces evocative of Stravinsky's various avant garde musical creations. The Parisians are like a new cat in the house: a bit stand-offish when something new is introduced into the mix, but eventually they come around. :-)