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Eiffel Tower with M. Eiffel in foreground

Eiffel Tower with Monsieur Eiffel in foreground

This is one of my favorite images of the Eiffel Tower.  It was on a postcard that I bought and sent to my oldest son while I was visiting Paris with my youngest son at the very end of the previous century (1999).  The card’s description says “Construction Work on the Eiffel Tower – 1888”.

I love this image for several reasons.  First of all, there’s **The Eiffel Tower**, curiously missing it’s top.  Secondly, the person standing in the lower right corner is the architect/engineer Monsieur Gustave Eiffel <<lui-même>>.  And finally, the photograph is taken from the “back” of the Tower, looking towards the right bank of La Seine and shows the Palais du Trocadéro framed by the arch of the Tower’s base.

I’ve personally (re)named this image “Perspective” for both technical and psychological reasons.  Once upon a time, a bit more than a century ago, the Eiffel Tower didn’t exist.  It was built as part of the Exposition Universelle/World’s Fair celebration of 1889.  You can see that in 1888 it was not yet finished.  Thankfully it wasn’t dismantled after the Fair, even though many people wanted it removed.  It was considered “hideous” and “ugly”.  The Palais du Trocadéro shown underneath the Tower’s lower arch was demolished in 1937 and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot.  I don’t find the newer construction quite so lovely, but future populations might disagree with me.  Future generations might even decide to finally demolish and melt down M. Gustave Eiffel’s tower for scrap iron value.

M. Eiffel at age 56

M. Eiffel at age 56

And what about Monsieur Eiffel himself appearing in the image as smallest and perhaps least significant part of the picture?  Individuals don’t usually last much beyond 100 years.  Gustave Eiffel lived to be 91 years old, more impressive in his time than nowadays. He was a mere 56 years old in 1888 when he posed for both of the photographs included in this post.

Even if Gustave Eiffel hadn’t been born and lived into his 50’s and well beyond, perhaps there would still be some sort of grandiose tower on this site.  But can you imagine it being the now (and hopefully forever) iconic Eiffel Tower?