The Eiffel Tower has become such an enduring symbol of Paris, it's easy to forget that, while it was being planned and early in its life, many of the city's denizens protested it. According to SETE, the company that manages the tower, people as respected as writers Paul Verlaine and Guy de Maupassant rallied against its construction.
Times have changed, however, and today it's difficult to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower. The Europe travel destination has become so popular that steps now have to be taken to keep it from falling due to the weight of its visitors' affection.
French news service RFI reported that a railing on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris collapsed in early June due to the weight of "love locks," padlocks that couples attach to the bridge as a romantic gesture on their vacations. The practice is common on a number of bridges and other landmarks in the city, including the Eiffel Tower.
Authorities recently removed 40 locks from the tower under the fear that it could be suffering similar damage, and a campaign has taken off to ban the practice. The iron tower may be more resilient than the railings of the Pont des Arts, but it could be matched by years of heavy hearts. According to Paris's English-language newspaper, The Local, a batch of locks recently removed from Pont des Arts and another bridge totaled around 18 tons.
An unusual anniversary
The attempt to dissuade tourists from hanging the weight of their relationships on the Eiffel Tower doesn't mean that travelers are being asked to steer clear, or that the tower's owners are trying to insulate it from change. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the tower's construction, prompting a flood of retrospectives and nostalgic looks at Paris in the old days. But more modern - even verging on postmodern - tributes are taking place, too.
Furniture maker Fermob recently put up an installation in the Champ de Mars, the park that sits before the Eiffel Tower, to mark the milestone, RTÉ News reported. As one might expect of a sculpture from such an unlikely source, the installation is not exactly traditional. Fermob constructed its tribute to the tower out of what they know best - furniture. The sculpture is made up of 324 chairs, a reference to its inspiration's height of 324 meters.