Building the World

Eiffel Tower — Iconic Cities (and Campuses)


Eiffel Tower, from Wikimedia Commons at

Iconic public art — what value does it bring to a city? Originally intended to be on display for just 20 years, Paris’ famed tower was built by civil engineer, Gustave Eiffel, after winning a competition for public art to celebrate the centennial of the French revolution for the International Exposition of 1889. The Eiffel Tower was an instant success; two million people paid admission in the first year, spending more than 5.9 million gold francs. An enterprising Eiffel convinced the government his sculpture should remain permanently because its height made it an ideal choice for new communications technology. Antennae were added, allowing the first European pubic radio broadcast to be beamed from the tower in 1921. Today, a webcam ( is in place. How can today’s cities (or university campuses) celebrate their unique culture with art that is at once engaging, financially successful, and useful?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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