March 31: La Tour Eiffel

Eiffel TowerIn 1889, Paris hosted a World’s Fair, the Exposition Universelle. As part of the tee-up to the events of the exposition, it was on this day in 1889 that the fairground’s entrance arch was unveiled: A 1,063 foot tall iron lattice tower that at the time was the world’s tallest structure, a structure we now call the Eiffel Tower.

The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company helped oversee the project, and incidentally helped build the structural interior of the Statue of Liberty. Contrary to popular myth, Eiffel did not actually design the Eiffel Tower; again, his company merely oversaw it.

The tower was the brainchild of Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, two engineers who worked for Eiffel’s company. When they first proposed the idea to Eiffel, he was less than enthusiastic about the “great pylon, consisting of four lattice girders standing apart at the base and coming together at the top, joined together by metal trusses at regular intervals”. So, Koechlin and Nouguier turned to Stephen Sauvestre, one of Eiffel’s architects, to add some more artistic touches to the tower proposal. Sauvestre’s additions included the tower’s iconic arches, a glass pavilion above the arches and a cupola. With the addition of these new elements, Eiffel fell in love with the tower design and instantly bought the patent for it.

After the tower was announced, there were some criticisms of the design. One petition claimed that the the tower would “dominat[e] Paris like a gigantic black smokestack…” and blot out all Paris’ other landmarks. However, despite the protest, the tower was built and it became very popular amongst Parisians and Exposition visitors. In fact, the tower was only supposed to stand for twenty years, but the popularity of the Eiffel Tower (and it’s potential use for communication) saved the tower. It’s said that the Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.

As the Eiffel Tower is a cultural icon, it’s not surprising that it’s been reproduced all over the globe. Perhaps the most famous of these is the half-scale Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel and casino in Las Vegas. There’s a restaurant inside of Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower, and its signature drink is a concoction called Top Of The Tower. It’s a delicious cocktail, with a nice ginger spice.

Top Of The Tower

  • 2 ounces Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce ginger beer
  • 1/4 ounce sweet and sour mix
  • 1 dash grated star anise

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice, candied ginger and mint leaf.

Tomorrow: Un poisson d’avril

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