The Eiffel Tower Could Be Painted Red (Again)

Paris's landmark structure is due to be repainted this fall but which color is still to be decided.

People with umbrellas walk on the human rights plaza in front of the Eiffel tower during a rainy morning in Paris on February 7, 2017. Photo Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images.

The Eiffel Tower is due to be repainted—a time-intensive paint job starting in October that will take three years to complete and around 60 tons of paint. But first a color needs to be chosen. Though it may sound surprising, Gustave Eiffel initially chose red as it was the most efficient color to resist potential rust. The City of Paris and the French ministry of culture is now deciding whether to paint it red, another color or stick with “Eiffel Tower Brown.”

Nothing has been decided so far. First, a team of specialist architects must evaluate how to proceed in stripping and adding another paint color, and how this will affect the integrity of the structure. The paint job is part of a $317 million refurbishment project set to take place over the next 14 years (it began in 2017). The 130th anniversary of the Paris landmark falls in 2019.

Last September, the planned construction of a bullet-proof glass wall that surrounds its foundation began, at a cost of around $36 million and with an expected completion date set for this spring.

“Like when we restore an old painting, we will rediscover and revive these old colors,” a specialist from the ministry of culture told Le Parisien newspaper.This will give some food for thought as to whether to add nuances or not to the current hue.”

Gustave Eiffel originally chose the color red for the tower completed in 1889. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The so-called “Iron Lady” has been painted 18 times in the past and gets a paint job every seven years or so, but it is a painstaking process done by hand by team of 25 painters. First, they must strip the layers of paint, a dangerous process due to the lead embedded in the old layers.

The monument has already been painted several times in varying tones, from yellow-ochre to red-brown, before becoming the bronze color it is today. In 1899 it was even painted with a gradient shading, fading from orange yellow at the bottom to a light yellow at the top. But since 1968, the tower has maintained its signature brown, seen by many as a harmonious color that suits the surrounding cityscape.

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