Saturday, May 10, 2008

Those fickle Parisians

When the Eiffel Tower is under construction in 1888, all of Paris is in an uproar over the “monstrosity” being foisted upon them, severely dishonoring their beloved Beaux-Arts sensibilities. Guy de Maupassant relates that he likes to lunch at the tower, because it is the only place in the city where he doesn’t have to look at it. It quickly becomes the worldwide iconic symbol of the city and a tourism cash cow.

The Centre Georges Pompidou opens in 1977 to critical outcry and protest over its controversial inside-out industrial design. It immediately becomes the most popular tourist destination in Paris.

As the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille is celebrated in 1989 by a new addition to the Louvre, critical protests reach near violent levels over the I. M. Pei designed pyramid placed in the historic Louvre courtyard. The dramatic glass structure results in a massive surge of tourism as visitors from all over the world rush to see it. Criticism is silenced immediately.

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