The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world’s fair that introduced it, by the author of Conquering Gotham and Urban Forests
In this first general history of the Eiffel Tower in English, Jill Jonnes-acclaimed author of Conquering Gotham-offers an eye- opening look not only at the construction of one of the modern world's most iconic structures, but also the epochal event that surrounded its arrival as a wonder of the world. In this marvelously entertaining portrait of Belle Époque France, fear and loathing over Eiffel's brash design share the spotlight with the celebrities that made the 1889 Exposition Universelle an event to remember-including Buffalo Bill and his sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and artists Whistler, Gauguin, and van Gogh. Eiffel's Tower is a richly textured portrait of an era at the dawn of modernity, reveling in the limitless promise of the future.
A colorful cast of characters descended on Paris for the 1889 World's Fair, and Jonnes (Conquering Gotham) offers an atmospheric overview of the celebrities who made belle poque Paris their stage during the memorable event. Annie Oakley amazed crowds with her precisely executed shots. Thomas Edison, a master at promoting both himself and modern technology, chafed at the leisurely French way of life, delighted the masses with his phonograph and chatted with Louis Pasteur at his institute. Paul Gauguin was enthralled by a troupe of Javanese temple dancers and miffed that the Americans only intended to exhibit 17 of his 27 etchings, while James McNeill Whistler, who delighted in provocations and feuds, decamped to the British, who displayed even fewer of his works. The fair's undisputed main attraction both at the fair and in Jonnes's account, was the controversial wrought-iron tower of unprecedented height that, Jonnes says, appeals for both its technological genius and its "aerial playfulness and charm." It perfectly embodies "the triumph of the modern" that Jonnes so well captures in her sprightly account. Photos.
Story of the World's Fair, not the Tower
I downloaded this book thinking it would be the Eiffel Tower equivalent of Higher, the story of the building of the Chrysler Building. Instead it turned out to be more like Devil in the White City, minus the conflict. If you're interested in reading about the goings on of the Paris World Fair, this book provides a nice review of the personalities, the art, and the cultural significance. But be aware, the Eiffel Tower is built in the first 150 pages.