If you think about it, some of Paris’ most beloved landmarks have had a tough go of it as late. In the summer of 2015, the iconic Ponts des Arts, a River Seine-spanning pedestrian bridge, suffered structural damage under the weight of millions of sentimentally inscribed padlocks that have subsequently been removed; the Louvre, for the first time in history, carried out an emergency art evacuation plan due to flooding threats this past June; and much of what makes the Parisian capital city such an enchanting place, its historic architecture, has been obscured by frequent, stifling layers of smog that Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her administration have taken aggressive efforts to curtail.
This all said, it’s nice to hear that the most beloved — and noticeably smog-shrouded — Parisian landmark of them all, the Eiffel Tower, might be lavished with an expansive makeover The top-to-bottom renovation rehab scheme, if approved by the Council of Paris, would be carried out over the span of 15 years with an anticipated price tag of $300 millions euros — or about $315 million.
However, as The Guardian reports, the “most important” elements of the Eiffel Tower overhaul would be completed much sooner, by 2024. The 7-year timeline is an important one as Paris is one of three cities — Budapest and Los Angeles being the other two — with an official bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Officials believe that spending millions to gussy up the emblematic French edifice will only increase Paris’ chances of being selected.
If Paris does win the bid, it would be the first time that the city has hosted the Olympic Games since 1924 when Hungarian-born American athlete-turned-actor Johnny Weismuller picked up a trio of gold swimming medals. The city previously hosted in 1900.
What’s more, this past November, France officially put in a bid to host a world’s fair in 2025. And as you're probably aware, the Eiffel Tower is without a doubt the world’s most famous world’s fair leftover. Built much to the chagrin of many Parisians who detested the 1,063-foot-tall wrought iron lattice tower with a fiery passion, Tour Eiffel was only meant to be temporary. Officials intended to dismantle the polarizing structure, then the tallest in the world, within 20 years of the event that birthed it, the 1889 Exposition Universelle.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Within time, city authorities recognized the tower’s potential for both radio communications and tourism and ultimately decided to allow the ephemeral world’s fair attraction to remain standing. Today, that once much-hated work of engineer Gustave Eiffel is the most visited paid monument in the world.
The Eiffel Tower, constructed in the late 19th century as a temporary structure for the world's fair, is obscured by 21st century smog in this photo taken in February 2015. (Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)
New lifts, less soggy tourists
As for the nips, tucks and major restoration efforts that the Eiffel Tower would be treated to under the proposed facelift, they involve modernizing the tower’s passenger elevator system, some of which apparently maintain original parts dating back to the late 19th century; outfitting the tower with a new and more efficient exterior lighting system; and improving security at the tower.
In addition to numerous engineering upgrades and structural overhauls that would maintain the structure’s historic integrity, perhaps the most important — and urgent — order of business would be to render the Eiffel Tower a little more comfortable for the 7 million starry-eyed out-of-towners who visit the landmark every year.
“There could be one or more places for the public to wait that are sheltered. Today, they are queueing in the rain and snow, and that’s not the best welcome for our foreign tourists,” Jean-François Martins, Paris’ deputy mayor, explains in a statement.
Given the Eiffel Tower’s advanced age and global prestige, this wouldn’t, of course, be the first time that it’s been treated to extensive restoration work. The tower underwent an extensive makeover in 1986. In more recent years, much of the work at the Eiffel Tower has focused on reducing the tower’s already formidable environmental footprint with the installation of LEDs, high-efficiency heat pumps, a rainwater catchment system and wind turbines.
Thousands of Parisians and others gather beneath the Eiffel Tower in protest of Donald Trump and the newly inaugurated American president's incoming administration. (Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)
Naturally, there’s also been major efforts to boost visitor numbers at the selfie-riddled architectural landmark including the 2014 installation of a stomach-churning glass panel flooring (an almost compulsory feature these days for Europe's tourist-snaring landmarks) located 1,000 feet above the ground on the tower’s first level.
The Eiffel Tower is also treated to a full and fresh coat of its signature brownish-grey hue every seven years, a performed-by-hand undertaking that requires roughly seven months and 20 metric tons of paint to complete.
Currently, 13.7 million euros ($14.5 million) is earmarked for annual upkeep at the Eiffel Tower. If the massive, multi-year renovation scheme is approved, the cost of upkeep would increase to 20 million euros or roughly $21 million per year.
Paint jobs and annual budgets aside, the Eiffel Tower most recently served, in predictably dramatic fashion, as the backdrop for a 7,000-plus-person demonstration staged in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Paris was just one of hundreds of locales across the globe — Antarctica included — to host a sister march or event.
Inset photo: Wikimedia Commons