it’s the day in 1889 the Eiffel Tower was dedicated and opened, one of the world’s most recognizable structures and a landmark in the history of design and construction.


We’ve said before on our show how the tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years, but got to stay up because it was useful as a radio tower.

Well, here’s another bit of Eiffel history: it was only one of hundreds of proposed designs for the site.

And some of those designs were wild.

Organizers wanted a massive entrance arch that fit the grandeur of a World’s Fair and also made sense for Paris.

One design, by French architect Jules Bourdais, would have literally turned Paris into a City of Light.

He called for a lantern on top of a 300 meter tall stone tower, with mirrors to shine its light out into the darkness.

Some reviewers liked this idea even better than Eiffel’s design, but the judges weren’t sure such a massive granite structure would support itself.

Still, that idea got a better reception than another design idea: someone apparently proposed to build a 1,000 foot tall guillotine.

That technically would have fit with the theme of marking 100 years since the French Revolution, but probably too literally.


Here’s a story that we pulled from out of thin air!

No really: the new AIR2WATER project from GE would extract water from the air, sort of like a dehumidifier does, except it would be compact and very portable, and wouldn’t have to work only in your basement.

The Story Behind The Eiffel Tower’s Forgotten Competitors (Ozy)

The Eiffel Tower’s Long-Lost Competition: A Granite Lighthouse (Frenchly)

GE researchers are developing a portable device that produces water out of thin air (designboom)

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Eiffel Tower photo by Wladyslaw (Taxiarchos228) – Own work, CC BY 3.0