The Eiffel Tower
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« A vision, an object, a symbol, the Tower is anything that Man wants it to be, and this is infinite. A sight that is looked at and which looks back, a structure that is useless and yet irreplaceable, a familiar world and a heroic symbol, the witness to a century passing by and a monument that is always new, an inimitable and yet incessantly imitated object... » (Translation of Roland Barthes, La tour Eiffel, Ed. Delpirre 1964). It was the tallest tower in the world at the time of its construction and has been imitated in various places around the world. Overtaken in height by today’s great towers, it nevertheless remains unique.
One of the Best Known and Most Imitated Monuments in the World
The symbol of Paris and of France, the Eiffel Tower is one of the best known monuments in the world, and the one whose silhouette has been most depicted.
In 1889, the year of the Tower’s inauguration, the Washington Monument with its height of 169 metres had held the world record for four years. The world would have to wait more than forty years before seeing the Tower dethroned by the Chrysler Building in New York (319 m), which was overtaken in 1949 by the Empire State Building (381 m). Today, towers reaching staggering heights are plentiful, such as the one in Taipei (508 metres) and more recently the Burj Dubai (800 metres).
However, the Eiffel Tower has also had its imitators for decades. The oldest is Blackpool Tower in Lancashire, northern England. It was built in 1894 and is 158 m tall. The largest (165 metres) and best known is the one in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two American towns called Paris, in Texas and in Tennessee, have also built replicas.
In Japan, a tower resembling Eiffel’s was erected in 1958 in the capital, Tokyo, 333 metres tall and painted red and white. Two Eiffel Tower replicas were built in China. One in a theme park in Shenzhen in the South-East of the country, and the other in Tianducheng next to Hangzhou. The latter is a 1:3 scale copy of the original and weighs more than 1,000 tonnes. We find other copies in Europe, such as the one in Prague (60 metres tall) at the top of the Petrin Hill. In Slobozia, Romania, there is a copy of around fifty metres in height, just like the one in Parizh, in the South of the Ural Mountains, in Russia. In Lyon (Fourvière), the top part of the Tower has also been reproduced.
The Eiffel Tower Manifold
Its copies of all kinds have made the Tower one of the most popular "objects" of the world. Unique and unparalleled, the Tower has been countlessly reproduced, in the most varied of forms. Art objects, "kitch" souvenirs or original creations, they can be found all over the world.
For some years now, fashion designers have taken over, making the Eiffel Tower a "trendy" glamour icon today.