In honor of last week’s Bastille Day, the French National Day celebrating the 1789 storming of the Bastille Prison during the French Revolution, Special Collections would like to highlight another French institution, the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel and built for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair Exhibition, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Champs de Mars, where the tower is located, was also the location of the first Bastille Day celebration in 1790 as well as many other events during the French Revolution. At the time of its construction, the Eiffel Tower represented a massive technological and architectural triumph, constructed entirely of wrought iron and measuring 324 meters (1,063 ft). At its completion, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building.
In 1900, Gustave Eiffel published La Tour de Trois Cents Mètres [The Tower of Three Hundred Meters], which documents the engineering and design involved in building the Eiffel Tower. Included in this book are a series of photographs documenting the construction process of the tower from foundations to completion. These photographs, taken from Special Collections’ copy of Eiffel’s book, are presented in the gallery below. A digitized version of the complete book is available online through the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Eiffel, Gustave. La Tour De Trois Cents Mètres. Paris: Société des imprimeries Lemercier, 1900.