Thursday 20 Aug, 2015

Area of Study: Eiffel Tower, Paris

Europe is full of some of Earth’s most striking and famous man-made landmarks—and as an educator, you know their value goes beyond mere sightseeing. Here are just a few of the many educational stories that inspire us about the Eiffel Tower, Tower of London and the Colosseum. Which one will you tell?

While nearly everyone recognizes this striking monument that dominates the Paris skyline, few know the history behind the famous lattice structure. Gustave Eiffel’s design is a stunning display of structural art, but its significance in Parisian society offers insight into multiple fields of study. Take a look at what makes this tower a truly versatile monument to teach in front of—and discover how artists, scientists, and everyday Parisians alike have contributed to its storied controversy.

768px-Eiffel_Tower,_November_15,_2011

1. Cultural Anthropology

Parisians have historically been in favor of tradition when it comes to the aesthetics of their city. Protests about the modern appearance of the tower were dramatic well before construction even began—similar to the uproar over I. M. Pei’s glass Louvre Pyramid in the ‘80s.

Louvre_Pyramid

2. Literary Studies

Novelist Guy de Maupassant (and other notable writers like Alexandre Dumas) hated the nontraditional appearance of the Eiffel Tower. You can tell this story over a bite to eat in the Eiffel Tower Restaurant located inside the tower’s base—where de Maupassant would eat his lunch to avoid seeing it in the skyline.

Champs_de_Mars,_Exposition_Universal,_1900,_Paris,_France

3. Science & Engineering

Gustave Eiffel received so much artistic criticism for his design that he decided to acknowledge the technical aspect of its construction. As you circle the tower, be sure to point out the names of the 72 scientists, engineers and mathematicians engraved along the base—each of whom played a role in the tower’s remarkable wind-resistant design.

Eiffel_Tower_Names

4. Political Science

The design was actually one of 107 competing to shine at the 1889 World’s Fair. However, Minister for Trade Édouard Lockroy decided on Eiffel’s design beforehand. He rigged the rules at the last minute and required every design to include a 300 meter four-sided metal tower on the Champ de Mars, securing Eiffel’s success.

Eiffel at night

Interested in combining your course with Parisian history and culture? Take your students abroad to Paris or help us create a custom itinerary based on your curriculum. Let’s make it happen.