Well, it turns out that today is 120th anniversary of that tower’s official opening. Here’s a bit of background from Wikipedia:
The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city. After the refusal of the Consistory of Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to those responsible for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where he would build his tower a year later, in 1889. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.Far from being thought of as “an odious column,” the Eiffel Tower is now one of the most recognizable and beloved edifices in the world. Climbing to 1,063 feet, it remains the tallest structure in Paris and the fifth-tallest in France.
The tower was met with much criticism from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. Newspapers of the day were filled with angry letters from the arts community of Paris. One is quoted extensively in William Watson’s U.S. Government Printing Office publication of 1892 Paris Universal Exposition: Civil Engineering, Public Works, and Architecture. “And during twenty years we shall see, stretching over the entire city, still thrilling with the genius of so many centuries, we shall see stretching out like a black blot the odious shadow of the odious column built up of riveted iron plates.”
Below are a couple of wonderful vintage shots from the Paris Exposition of 1900, when the city again played host to the world and the Eiffel Tower drew more appreciative crowds.
You can find more early Eiffel Tower photographs here and here.