Gustave Eiffel was a great engineer. Not many people know who he is, but his name is well known. His greatest work defines the city of Paris, France.
It has been featured as the setting in countless films, books, and stories. He built the impossible. Over 2000,000,000 people would visit the 1,063-foot tall tower, the tallest building in Paris, from the day it opened to today. This landmark is none other than the Eiffel Tower. In 1889 “Exposition Universelle” was fast approaching.
France needed to decide on a centerpiece for the fair. A contest was held to design this centerpiece. Gustave Eiffel designed the winning structure, and construction started almost immediately. The tower was to be made of wrought iron, with four legs sloping up to a point. It was to be the tallest building in the world.
Nothing like this had ever been attempted. The challenge would be the height and the foundation. The structure would have to be strong enough under the pressure of high winds, but light enough so that it would not collapse on itself. Throughout the construction of the tower, people viewed it as ugly, repulsive, and an eyesore. They cringed at the thought of it as the centerpiece of the World’s Fair.
People from all over the world would be coming to Paris, only to see this great iron beast. It was not something that one could just ignore, either. They would be glad when the tower’s contract would be up and it could be torn down in 20 years. Builder were working day and night trying to finished the tower in time for the opening of the fair. They were even working the night before on the final changes.
Once the tower opened, thousands of people crowded to go up in the elevators to the first and second floors. Every merchant in Paris was selling something that related to the Eiffel Tower. The people of Paris soon forgot about the ghastly mess and started seeing a beautiful, romantic tower in their city. The “Exposition Universelle” attracted thousands of people from the four corners of the earth. Many celebrities were also there. Buffalo Bill brought his entire Wild West Show to the Champ de Mars, along with the great sharpshooter, Annie Oakley.
Jack Whistler was there showing off his paintings, and Thomas Edison with his inventions, to name a few. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show proved very successful in France. The cowboys and Indians intrigued the French. Almost everyone went to see at least one show, even the royalty. They especially liked watching the small Annie Oakley shoot. She could shoot better than anyone else could.
An Earl thought that he could do better, but he was soon shown otherwise. In the end, about 32,250,297 people visited the fair in the six months that it was open. They told their families and friend about the experience for years afterward. The tower that Gustave Eiffel built would stand well past the twenty years it was contracted to stand. It would become an iconic symbol of the French culture, a sight known around the world, a dream that came true to Gustave Eiffel. That dream is still standing today, the only building left of the 1889 “Exposition Universelle.”