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Did and will the Eiffel Tower always look the same?

Original Eiffel Tower
CC0 Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet

Paris will host the summer Olympic Games in 2024. It was also the site of the Olympic Games in 1900 (the second Olympiad) and 1924 (the movie « Chariots of Fire » Olympics). Like other cities hosting the Games, Paris wants to put on a show on top of the spectacle that the city offers every day.

Somehow, major events in the city, whether in celebration or in sorrow, require doing something with the Eiffel Tower. For the Olympics, the project is to repaint the tower yellow, brown, and golden. This will mean painting its 18,000 pieces and 2.5 million rivets. When the tower was first built for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was painted red. In 1907, Eiffel said that he wanted it painted yellow, brown, and golden, and those remained the colors for the first half of the 20th century.

Most buildings in Paris are considered historical, this means they are protected and modifications are rarely allowed. When I wanted to replace the windows in my apartment, the company that would build and install them had to measure the size of each window, pane of glass, and of the mullions and muntins. This because they had to look exactly the same as the old ones for the renovation to be allowed.

But; it’s OK for the Eiffel Tower to change color: it’s one of the things about living in this city that makes you say, « go figure. »

Our beloved tower has a knack of surviving human folly. Built in 1889 for a world's fair, it was originally scheduled to be torn down after the end of the fair. At the end of WWII it was one of the monuments that almost got leveled under the orders of Hitler! But somehow she has managed to resist the times.

The city of Paris uses the lighting of the tower to show support for different causes, while advertising by private companies has almost been non-existent here are some exceptions: In 1926, when the tower was still operated by the Eiffel family, Citroên advertised their automobiles.

In 2017, the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team paid 50,000 euros to have their acquisition of Neymar, the Brazilian star, feted in the red and blue team colors for a couple hours!!! Any company may use the image of the tower for free for their advertising provided that it’s a daytime photo. When the lights are on at night, they need to have the authorization of the city and they have to pay for it.

In 2011, the Ginger Engineering Company wanted to make the Eiffel Tower into a planter for four years. Plants would have covered all four sides for its entire 357 yard height. That was about 600,000 plants plus 12 tons of rubber tubing to keep the plants watered. The engineers estimated this would add 378 tons to the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

You might well ask why they wanted to do this.

Answer: the company wanted to create a carbon negative building; they wanted to have Paris be the first city in the world to do this; and as we all know, the Eiffel Tower symbolizes Paris. With this project, the 7 million annual visitors to the Eiffel Tower would not just have been visiting the Eiffel Tower, they would have been involved in eco-tourism.

According to the engineers, the Eiffel Tower produces 84.2 tons of carbon dioxide. With the 600 thousand plants, 87.8 tons would have been absorbed.

Ginger claimed to have the support of the Paris mayor and the national Minister of the Environment but then a funny thing happened. The story appeared in the news. The stories politicians would rather not see in the news are more likely to appear than the stories they'd like to see. The Mayor issued a statement saying that he had not yet decided whether to support the project and as you might have guessed, the project became a part of history that most everyone ignores.

Now you know; when you come to Paris make sure to take pictures to immortalise the Eiffel Tower of "your time", because there’s no guarantee it will look the same in the future.

By Eliot Goldman

StrollsParis tips:

1- After a visit to the Tower you might consider a moment of calm, you can find this by the hidden waterfall between the Musée de l'homme, rue Benjamin Franklin and rue le Tasse, the hidden side of Trocadero garden. You can watch our facebook live tour we did on June 13th 2021 to know where this is:

2- The Paris Aquarium, in the Trocadero gardens, is a great place to bring your kids.

"Aquarium de Paris" 5 rue Albert de Mun, Paris 75016.

Metro Trocadero, Lines 6 and 9

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