Eiffel Tower's magician of light, Fernand Jacopozzi

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The Eiffel Tower opened to the public on this day in 1899, but it was described as "a simple and useless dark peak in the Paris night sky" until the owners hired engineer Fernand Jacopozzi to light it in spectacular fashion in 1925.

For that year's International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, the owners wanted to make a big statement. Jacopozzi convinced industrialist André Citroën to finance the lighting project in exchange for turning the Eiffel Tower into a giant billboard. By all accounts, the effect was mind-blowing. Postcards, paintings, and photographs sold quickly to a fascinated public.

carte-postale-tour-eiffel The project proved so popular that Jacopozzi did it annually for about a decade, each time making it more and more ornate, adding decorative patterns to a complex matrix of wood structures he attached to the metal frame.

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Photo of the original version: citroen.eiffel-tower

Another photo of the original version: citroen-advertising-1925-361

Fernand Jacopozzi : Le magicien de la lumière (fernandojacopozzi.com)