This Day in History: Eiffel Tower Rises Out of Recession

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This French icon has been featured in almost every movie filmed in Paris, but its conception was really due to a world’s fair held in Paris. The Exposition was held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, and was seen a way to stimulate the economy and pull France out of a recession.

The 1,063 ft tower was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the entrance and centerpiece to the 1889 Exposition Universelle. The tower’s modern “bare-bones” design was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals.

Eiffel received all income from the revenues of the tower during the exhibition and for the next 20 years. The names of 72 French scientists, engineers and mathematicians were engraved in recognition of their contributions to the building of the tower. Today, the Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.

The world’s fairs shared international invention and started a sense of modern globalization. The best-known 'first World Expo' was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition.”

The character of world fairs has evolved since the Great Exhibition. Three eras can be distinguished: the era of industrialization, the era of cultural exchange, and the era of nation branding.

From World Expo 88 in Brisbane onwards, countries started to use expositions as a platform to improve their national image through their pavilions. Pavilions became a kind of advertising campaign, and the Expo served as a vehicle for "nation branding."

It’s estimated that the Dutch pavilion at Germany’s Expo 2000 generated around €350 million for the Dutch economy. The latest World Expo was held in 2015 in Milan, Italy. Expo 2020 opens on October 20, 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

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