When the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889 to universal wonder and acclaim, designer Gustave Eiffel soaked up the praise. But as if that wasn’t enough, it was soon revealed that he had built himself a small apartment near the top of the world wonder, garnering him the envy of the Parisian elite in addition to his new fame.
Located on the third level of the tower, Eiffel’s private apartment was not large, but it was cozy. In contrast to the steely industrial girders of the rest of the tower, as RM1000 reports, author Henri Girard described the apartment in his 1891 book La Tour Eiffel de Trois Cent Métres as being “furnished in the simple style dear to scientists.” The walls were covered in warm wallpaper, and the furniture included soft chintzes, wooden cabinets, and even a grand piano, creating a comfortable atmosphere perched nearly 1,000 feet in the air. Adjacent to the small apartment were some laboratory areas equipped with the experimentation gear of the day.
Once word got out about Eiffel’s little nest in the sky, all of Parisian high society turned simultaneously green with jealousy. Eiffel is said to have received a number of sky-high (pun intended) offers to rent out the space, even for one night. He declined them all, preferring to use the space for quiet reflection, and to entertain prestigious guests such as Thomas Edison himself, who gifted Eiffel one of his newfangled phonograph machines.
Today, after being off limits for years, the apartment is on display for visitors to come and peer into. The furnishings remain much the same and there are a couple of rather wan-looking mannequins of Eiffel and Edison. For the right type of architectural admirer, Eiffel’s secret apartment could inspire as much jealousy today as it did when it was built.
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