What the Man Who Built the Eiffel Tower Can Teach Us About Virtue


(L: Wikimedia Commons | Nadar, R: Getty Images | London Stereoscopic Company)

They once called the proposed 300-meter monument in the heart of Paris an “eyesore”; today, it’s an icon.


Gustave Eiffel’s proposal for a monumental centerpiece in France’s capital city was the source of great controversy for years. But the entrepreneur engineer’s tolerance of the critics, courage in the face of dissension, and persevering nature eventually saw his design elevated to the ranks of the greatest architectural achievements of the modern age.


At the 1889 Exposition Universelle, also the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, a great competition to design a new Parisian landmark was launched in the Journal Officiel. Selected from among 107 proposals, it was the design of Gustave Eiffel, Maurice Koechlin, Emile Nouguier, and Stephen Sauvestre that was ultimately chosen.