Fascinating Pictures of the Eiffel Tower Throughout Its History

It's hard to believe that when the Eiffel Tower was first unveiled for the Universal Exposition of 1889, it was deemed a horrible eyesore by many, who found its bold modernity a shock. Now millions of people each year throng on the tower, both for its fascinating construction and its superb views over the city, but it's interesting to look back on the tower's many guises over the years. We start with the present but make sure to click view the full gallery to see some truly intriguing historical shots.

01 of 09

Past and Present Guises of "La Tour"

View of the eiffel tower form the top of the arc d'triomphe

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

Pictured here - La Tour Eiffel in Spring: This poetic shot of the Eiffel Tower during the springtime shows how much effort the city of Paris puts into maintaining the gardens around the tower. This guarantees dramatic and memorable perspectives of trees and blossoms during the spring.

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02 of 09

Eiffel Tower Lit up at Night for 120th Anniversary

The Eiffel Tower lit up for 120th anniversary celebrations in 2009.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

This shot of the tower shows one of the world's most-recognized monuments lit up for its 120th-anniversary celebrations. The tower was first unveiled in 1889 during the World Exposition in Paris but was generally reviled by the public and by Gustave Eiffel's contemporaries. A lot has changed since then!​

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03 of 09

Sunset View of the Eiffel Tower and Paris Landscapes

The Eiffel Tower photographed at sunset
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

This dusky view of the Eiffel Tower and the grandiose promenade around the tower known as the Champ de Mars also gives us some stunning perspectives on the city landscapes surrounding the monument.

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04 of 09

The Eiffel Tower Goes European

The Eiffel Tower lit with EU colors and insignia in 2008
Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

When France assumed the presidency of the European Union in 2008, the Eiffel Tower was lit with the colors and insignia of the EU flag, as shown in this shot.

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05 of 09

Vertical View of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower shot from below
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This vertical perspective of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France gives us a closer look at the elaborate metal latticework that was at the time a true feat of engineering. The use of steel and other metals were still relatively new in architecture in 1889, and while the tower was at first deemed an ugly monstrosity, it would influence countless architects and engineers in years to come.

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06 of 09

The Eiffel Tower Under Construction - Circa 1878

The Eiffel Tower during its construction in 1878
Public domain.

This archival shot of the Eiffel Tower during the construction phase was taken in 1878 when photography was still a fledgling technology. The tower is constructed of 18,038 pieces, including 7,300 tons of metal, for a total weight of 10,100 tons. It stands at 324 meters/approx. 1,063 ft. It took a total of 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to complete construction, and contrary to popular belief, the architect behind the project was Stephen Sauvestre—Gustave Eiffel was the contractor hired to plan the project.

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07 of 09

Painting of the Eiffel Tower at the Exposition Universelle in 1889

A depiction of the Eiffel Tower at the Exposition Universelle of 1889
Georges Garen, 1889. Public domain.

Georges Garen's 1889 painting of a newly inaugurated Eiffel Tower lit spectacularly for the Universal Exhibit of 1889 gives a dramatic sense of the tower's unveiling in Belle-Epoque Paris.

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08 of 09

The Eiffel Tower at the Universal Exhibition of 1900

The Eiffel Tower shot for the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exhibition) of 1900.
Public domain

This surrealistic shot of the Eiffel Tower was taken for the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1900 by American photographer William Herman Rau.

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09 of 09

Lightning Strikes the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower struck by lightning in 1902.
Public domain

This dramatic shot circa 1902 shows the Eiffel Tower in Paris being struck by lightning. The Eiffel Tower, which has been used as a radio antenna, has also been described as a gigantic steel lightning conductor.

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