Vue aérienne de la tour Eiffel

A century of the Eiffel Tower seen from the sky!

Thursday 7 January 2021

Modified the 07/01/21

Here we offer you a little journey in time from 1920 compliments of IGN’s aerial photos.

The IGN* platform “Remonter le temps” (“Time Machine”), now allows anyone to view thousands of maps and aerial photos from the past and present. So let’s zoom in on Paris’ 7th arrondissement to observe the Iron Lady from the sky! The following dozen or so photos (about one per decade) will let you take to the skies and observe the Tower’s evolutions and its journey through Parisian history.

Eleven photos taken between 1920 and 2018

The very first photograph taken above the Tower dates back to 1920. At that time, the Tower retained its original appearance (though it had already changed color) and the area underneath its structure was still a simple extension of the Champ de Mars.

1920
In 1920 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service

The images of the neighborhood at the end of the Second World War are particularly fascinating evidence of this turbulent period. A photograph taken in August 1944, just a few days before Paris was liberated, shows a very lonely Tower in a capital still under occupation. The calm before the storm.

La Tour vue du ciel
11 August 1944  © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service

Another shot taken in August 1945 reveals large military planes parked on the esplanade. The American army moved into the Eiffel Tower to use its radio transmission equipment as soon as it arrived in Paris following the city’s liberation. It would stay there for a year. In the summer of 1945, before its departure, the US Army organized a public exhibition of the Flying Fortresses and gliders it used during the battles in Europe. This aerial photograph is proof! 

La Tour vue du ciel
1st August 1945 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service

Comparing the pictures from 1956 and 1961, you can see that the top of the monument has changed. During that period (in 1957), it was equipped with live television broadcasting antennas and a frequency modulation radio transmitter, making it 8 meters (26 feet) taller.

La Tour vue du ciel
7 May 1956 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

La Tour vue du ciel
29 August 1961  © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

What stands out from the photos in the 70s and 80s is the growing presence of cars, constant street traffic, and even the appearance of a parking lot on the esplanade.

La Tour vue du ciel
17 April 1970 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

La Tour vue du ciel
11 July 1975 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

La Tour vue du ciel
17 July 1985  © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 
The parking lot finally disappears in the 1996 shot, making way for the large esplanade we know today. Since 2000, the Tower’s silhouette (despite a slight increase to 324 meters [1,063 feet]) has changed little. The latest IGN photo dates from 2018 and shows the renovation work on the gardens and the site’s enclosure, which created a pleasant, integrated space for strolling around the Iron Lady.

La Tour vue du ciel
15 April 1996  © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

La Tour vue du ciel
26 April 2011 © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

La Tour vue du ciel
3 August 2018  © IGN 2020 via the Remonter le temps service  

 

*Institut national de l’information géographique et forestière (National Institute for Geographic and Forestry Information) (see official website)

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